What do I do if I didn’t get all of my security deposit back due to excessive cleaning charges?

UPDATED: Oct 14, 2011

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What do I do if I didn’t get all of my security deposit back due to excessive cleaning charges?

I challenged it but the landlord said it was fair. I don’t agree. We cleaned (repainted and everything) for nearly 8 hours getting that apartment clean. There was no way it was dirty;there were other people there who could attest to it. They claimed the only things that were dirty was the tub and microwave. I challenged their claims, asking to see the bill but the landlord refused to let me see it and just told me it was fair. I fear it will turn into a “he said, she said”. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures before moving out. I don’t really know where to go from here.

Asked on October 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The only way to get the security deposit back from the landlord in a case like that which you describe is by suing the landlord. You would need to be able to show that the work did not need to be done; or was not your responsibility (e.g. done before or after your tenancy); and/or could have been remediate less expensively. You can sue witness testimony for this, though it would have  been beneficial to have photographs and other documentation. You have the option of suing in small claims court, where you can represent yourself (i.e. no need for a lawyer and no legal fees), the filing costs are minimal (usually  $25 to $50), the rules are somewhat relaxed, and, generally speaking, the cases move quicker than in other courts.  Good luck.

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