On what grounds does a landlord have the right to keep a tenant’s deposit?

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On what grounds does a landlord have the right to keep a tenant’s deposit?

We are breaking the lease early but we have paid all rent owed and she’s getting another tenant in here as soon as we leave. Do I still have a right to my full deposit, and would I win in small claims court? Provided I have sufficient documentation?

Asked on December 18, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you break the lease early, you still owe rent for the remainder of your lease term--so if, for example, you break your lease 2 months early, you would still owe 2 months rent. If the landlord re-rents the premises before that, he/she cannot charge you for rent for the time after the re-rental--though if there is any delay betwen you breaking the lease and the new tenants starting to pay rent, the landlord can charge you for the time or length of that delay. So, say you break the lease 2 months early and the new tenant starts paying rent after 1 month--then the landlord could charge you one month rent. That rent can be taken from your security deposit. The landlord can also take the cost to repair any damage you (or your families, guests, pets, etc.) caused from the deposit.


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