What can a landlord legally deduct from your deposit?

UPDATED: Jul 29, 2011

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What can a landlord legally deduct from your deposit?

I lived in a house with 20 full-grown trees. I had several plumbing problems that the landlord was aware of but didn’t correct. Now it’s 4 weeks after we moved out and we don’t have our deposit back. Even though I spent 4full days cleaning and we mowed the week we moved. Landlord states he has to deduct cleaning/painting costs and lawn service from deposit then he will mail us the remaining portion. Can he charge us for paint or yard work? There was barely wear and tear to property, let alone anything out of the norm. When can I file a small claim?

Asked on July 29, 2011 Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A landlord may only deduct for repairs or replacement occasioned by damage done by a tenant (or the tenant's family, guests, pets, etc.)--NOT for normal wear and tear. Normally, repainting, cleaning, and lawn sercive would be normal wear and tear, and so not something chargeable to the tenant, though you have to examine the circumstances to be sure: for example, if your children drew on the falls in permanent market, a pet urinated on the carpet, or you dug up the lawn to install a firepit without permission, all those of those or similar conditions could give rise to legal deductions. As for where to file--contact you local county or municipal court; small claims court will either sit there or they can direct you to it. Good luck.

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