Can we pursue legal action against our landlord? We live in Texas

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can we pursue legal action against our landlord? We live in Texas

I need advice regarding a landlord who deducted expenses from my deposit that
are beyond normal wear and tear. We paid him 2 months rent plus a pet deposit.
The total we paid was 5400. We received the check he sent for 1788 a day past
the 30 days he was supposed to. An example of what he spent was 1100 on
landscaping and deducted 580 from our deposit. There are many other expenses
he deducted that are not normal wear and tear. The check had paid in full
written on it. While we did not want to cash it we had no choice. Our rent at
our current place was past due and we were facing eviction. I did cross out
paid in full and wrote partial payment/ all rights reserved on it. My question
is do we have any chance of fighting this in court? I know that the law states
that if a person retains a security deposit in bad faith they are liable for an
amount equal to 100, three times the amount of the deposit wrongfully
withheld, and attorney fees and court costs.

Asked on June 7, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

First, don't worry: it is a myth that writing "paid in full" on a check means that you give up any/all claims for more money; the person writing the check putting "paid in full" on it has zero legal effect.
Second, yes--if the landlord deducts for anything other than normal wear and tear (like landscaping, unless it was to repair damage you did to the landscaping), the tenant can sue for the wrongly withheld money plus, as applicable, the additional damages or compensation provided for by law.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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