What are our rights for the retur of out security deposit?

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What are our rights for the retur of out security deposit?

Landlord claims it costs $645 to clean carpets and took the money out of the $3000. He states the $250 is irrelevant because its non-refundable. Landlord is also refusing to show us receipts. In all he kept $1600. What can we do?

Asked on June 5, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A landlord is only allowed to retain money from the security deposit:

1) To pay for repairs caused by things the tenants (or their families, pets, guests, etc.) cause which are not normal wear and tear. Normally, tenants are not responsible for paying for carpet cleaning, unless either there is a written lease making them responsible, or the cleaning is required by something beyond normal wear and tear--such as you spilled red wine or motor oil/grease, or there were pet urine stains, etc.

2) To pay for unpaid rent--that is, if you move out not owing rent.

If the landlord takes money out of the deposit other than as  the above, he has violated the law and you may sue him to recover the security deposit and possible other compensation as well.

Also, even if the landlord is legitimately retaining money to pay for repairs, he may only take out the actual dollar cost of those repairs. So getting back to the carpet: say you had dogs who stained the carpet, so the landlord could charge you for a commercial cleaning. If it only cost him $400 though, that's all he can charge--not $645. If you think that the landlord is overcharging you, you can again sue him to recover the excess.

There is no way to make the landlord show you receipts or other evidence other than by suing him, but you can get this information and documentation in a lawsuit. One option is to sue him in small claims court: the filing fee is low, this is a straight forward matter, and you can act as your own attorney, saving on legal fees.

(Note: if the $250 was not part of the security deposit, but was an application fee, a pet deposit, or a deposit to "hold" the aparment for you, the landlord would be entitled to keep that amount--those kinds of fees or deposits may be made nonrefundable.)

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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption