Do I have a right to the full return of my deposit if my landlord did not provide a proper claim to the money?

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Do I have a right to the full return of my deposit if my landlord did not provide a proper claim to the money?

I left the house that I rented in last month (mid-month). My lease states that if the security deposit is to be withheld, the landlord has 30 days to send a certified letter to me stating her intent to impose a claim or forfeit the money. It has been over 30 days and she stated that she sent a letter, not certified. However my lease states that I had to leave the utilities on for 48 hours after vacating for inspection of the house. I did not do this. Do I have a right to a full return of my security deposit?

Asked on April 20, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Ok, one issue here has nothing to do with the other, believe it or not. A security deposit is a sum of money left on deposit with the landlord (and certain states have various rules as to where and in what type of accounts the money must be held)  for damage done to the apartment over and above what is known as "normal wear and tear."  Normal wear and tear is defined in slightly different ways in each state.  Also, some states allow a landlord to keep a portion of a security deposit for repainting, rent, etc., but that is not generally the norm. However, you do not forfeit a security deposit for breach of a portion of the lease agreement (unless it is for rent and it a state that allows you to keep it for rent).  And if your landlord has not complied with the lease regarding the certified mail issue then I would file a claim as to th return of the deposit i small claims court. Make sure, however, that you have evidence to back up your claim that you left the apartment broom clean and in good shape minus wear and tear.  Good luck. 


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