When you sign a lease for an apartment, it is customary to hand over a security deposit, which theoretically should be returned to you after the lease ends. And yet, many landlords will keep the security deposit, sometimes without giving an explanation as to why. So do you have a right to have your security deposit returned, and if so, what happens when your landlord violates that right?
What is a Security Deposit?
A security deposit is a certain amount of money you give to your landlord in addition to your rent, which is meant to cover the costs of maintenance, repairs, or cleaning beyond what is regularly needed at the end of the lease when you leave. This is meant, for example, to repair broken fixtures, cracked drywall, or anything else that may have been damaged during the course of your lease. Anything your landlord does not spend is supposed to be returned to you at the end of your lease.
How Much of Your Security Deposit Can Your Landlord Keep?
In theory, your landlord is only supposed to use up as much of your deposit as needed to pay for maintenance and repairs beyond normal wear and tear at the end of your lease. They are also supposed to document any expenses credited against your deposit, which you can view on request. They are not entitled to keep any of your deposit that they do not use for a valid purpose.
How Do Landlords Try to Illegally Keep Your Security Deposit?
There are a number of tricks that landlords will resort to in order to try to keep your security deposit illegally. They may exaggerate the costs of maintenance and repairs, for example, or use the deposit to pay for work it is not meant to pay for. Others may simply invent charges to justify withholding your deposit, or threaten you with legal action if you try to ask for it back.
What Should You Do if Your Landlord Will Not Return Your Security Deposit?
You are legally entitled to have the remainder of your security deposit returned to you at the completion of your lease. If your landlord refuses to do so, you may have legal options available to you. However, to know how best to enforce your rights as a tenant, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling landlord tenant matters.
If you are in a dispute with your landlord and want to know more about protecting yourself, do not wait until it is too late. You should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling landlord-tenant disputes, who can advise you on your rights and help you avoid the risk of eviction. Contact the skilled landlord-tenant attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. Contact us online, toll-free (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744 to discuss your rights and the solutions available to you.