what type of lawyer do i need if my landlord reduses my deposit refund

by Luther Kuphal 6 min read

If your landlord doesn't refund the deposit after the seven day notice is over you can: Sue your landlord yourself in Small Claims Court. (See Small Claims section below.) Or Try to get a private attorney to take your case on "contingency." Contingency means that the lawyer will only get paid if you win your case.

Full Answer

What can I do if my landlord refuses to return my deposit?

Start by contacting the landlord and discussing the problem. If you’re not satisfied with the landlord’s response, put your concerns in writing and explain your legal rights as to the use and return of your deposit. If there is no reasonable prospect of compromise, considering suing your landlord in small claims court.

When does a landlord have to provide a security deposit refund?

For example, state law might say that a landlord has to provide whatever security-deposit refund is due within 30 days of the tenant moving out and include a full accounting of the reasons for any deductions. What Is Ordinary Wear and Tear?

How can a landlord/tenant lawyer help me?

A landlord/tenant lawyer can help you win an eviction lawsuit, steer clear of liability, and collect or return a security deposit. Whether you are a landlord drawing up a lease or a renter trying to get back your security deposit, an attorney can assist in cases of all types, especially those involving illegal discrimination, property damage ...

How do I Sue my Landlord for my full deposit?

I began to make preparations to sue for my full deposit whenever my deducted deposit was returned to me. Once I received my security deposit back from my landlord with the anticipated deductions, I began the process to file suit. First, I had create and send a demand letter. There are several examples online, and here is a template that I used.

How do I fight my deposit back?

Steps for Getting Your Security Deposit BackRead Your Lease. Go through your lease as soon as you decide to move out. ... Notify Your Landlord. ... Pay Your Last Month's Rent. ... Make Small Repairs. ... Clean, and Clean Again. ... Take Your Stuff with You. ... Return Your Keys. ... Follow Up.More items...

What happens if landlord does not return security deposit in 21 days California?

If a landlord does not return the entire amount of the tenant's security deposit within the 21 days required by law, and the tenant disputes the deductions from the deposit: The tenant can write a letter to the landlord explaining why he or she believes he or she is entitled to a larger refund.

What is the California law on returning a renters deposit?

Under California law, a landlord must return the renter's security deposit, with an itemized statement of deductions, within 21 days after the renter has surrendered the rental property to the landlord (that is, returned the keys and vacated the property).

What can I do if my landlord won't return my security deposit NYC?

If the landlord refuses to return the security deposit on time, you may have to sue the landlord in Small Claims Court. The Court may award you damages for any part of your security deposit that should have been returned.

Can you sue your landlord?

In general, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your landlord for the following reasons. Illegally Keeping Your Security Deposit: Each state's landlord tenant law lists specific reasons a landlord can take deductions from your security deposit.

Can a landlord hold your deposit?

Your landlord or agent is only entitled to keep all or part of your deposit if they can show that they have lost out financially because of your actions, for example, if you have caused damage to the property or you owe rent.

What can I do if my landlord doesn't return my deposit?

If your landlord is refusing to return your deposit, you should request the prompt return of the deposit in writing.

How do I sue my landlord in California?

How to file a small claims lawsuit against your landlordStep 1: Identify who your Landlord is and their address. ... Step 2: Complete "Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court" (Form SC-100) ... Step 3: File "Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court" ... Step 4: Serve your landlord.

How long do landlords have to return deposit in California?

21 daysAccording to California security deposit laws, after a tenancy is terminated, a landlord has 21 days to return the tenant's deposit in full.

How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit?

within 10 daysRules surrounding returning a deposit If your landlord holds your deposit (so should be protected in the Insured scheme), the landlord should pay your deposit back within 10 days of your request for the deposit to be returned. A tenant cannot request the return of their deposit before the tenancy ends.

Can a landlord charge you after you move out?

If tenants agreed to the fee at the outset, they can't contest it during move-out. But if they didn't agree to any exit fees, then landlords have no right to charge a move-out fee after the fact.

How do I get my security deposit back from my landlord in NYC?

Deposits are refundable and tenants can get their money back after the lease is over if the apartment is left in good condition. A landlord must return a tenant's security depository within 14 days after they have completely moved out of the apartment with their keys returned.

Landlord-Tenant Disputes: Withholding Deposits

Even if returning deposits is mandated by law, there are still rogue landlords who prefer to do things their way. They often do not return deposits for reasons that only they know.

If Your Landlord Deducts From Your Deposit

Although your landlord is allowed by law to deduct from your deposit, this is only applicable if you did or are guilty of any of the following:

Withholding Deposits: What To Do

If you are an assured shorthold tenant about to end your tenancy, you need to ensure your landlord returns your deposit within the period mandated by law. If they do not do so, these are the steps you should take:

Pursuing Legal Action

Legal action against your landlord who refuses to return your tenancy deposit may sound intimidating, but it is an ideal option for many affected tenants. You only have to find a reliable and experienced team of solicitors with expertise in tenancy deposits.

How to get your security deposit back?

So how do you get your security deposit back when your landlord uses it to cover ordinary wear and tear in the rental? Start by contacting the landlord and discussing the problem. If you first contacted the landlord by phone or in person and aren't satisfied with the response, put your concerns in writing. Include your documentation of the unit's condition—for example, any notes, checklists, and photos from move-in. Also, in your written communication, give the landlord a deadline for returning your full security deposit. Be sure to include your mailing address or other payment information so that the landlord can easily get you the money.

How long does it take for a landlord to refund security deposit?

For example, state law might say that a landlord has to provide whatever security-deposit refund is due within 30 days of the tenant moving out and include a full accounting of the reasons for any deductions.

What is a security deposit?

A security deposit is a sum of money separate from rent that a landlord collects at the beginning of a tenancy. The landlord is supposed to hold the security deposit and, at the end of the tenancy, use only however much of it covers repair costs for tenant-caused damage, unpaid rent, or both. If you were a tenant and neither damaged ...

What is ordinary wear and tear?

In general, ordinary wear and tear is deterioration or damage that happens as a result of tenants living in and using a rental in a reasonable manner. Examples are a few worn spots on carpet and dusty mini blinds. The longer someone has lived in an apartment, the more wear and tear the landlord should expect—even assuming ...

What happens if my dog stains my carpet?

On the other hand, if your dog stained the living room carpet, you broke a hanging light fixture, or you left a now-filthy bathtub or stove top, you can expect the landlord to deduct the cost to clean and repair these items before returning your deposit.

Can a landlord charge for a condition the renter inherited?

Also, a landlord can't charge for a condition the renter inherited—if, for instance, the bathtub and stove in your apartment were dirty and stained when you moved in, your landlord may not use your deposit for a professional cleaning crew to make them sparkle after you move out.

Can landlords use security deposits?

Landlords are supposed to be able to use security deposits for cleaning or repairs necessary to restore the rental unit more or less to its condition when the renter moved in. But there's a certain level of damage that happens when a place is inhabited over time, and the idea is that renters shouldn't have to pay for that—meaning ...

What to do if landlord isn't following security deposit rules?

It’s also a good idea to file a report with those same state and local agencies if you believe that your landlord isn’t following the rules for security deposits. An investigation by those agencies into the dispute could motivate your landlord to respond to your concerns.

How to get your security deposit back?

The easiest way to get your security deposit back is to maintain a good relationship with your landlord after you move in to the apartment. If you get along well with your landlord, misunderstandings don’t have to escalate into major disagreements. Even if you have a good relationship with your landlord, it is a good idea to take photos ...

What is a security deposit dispute?

Disputes over security deposits are very common between tenants and landlords at the end of a lease. A security deposit is usually linked to the month's rent paid by the renter. Landlords typically must return security deposits at the end of a lease, minus the cost of specific repairs and cleaning. As with any legal issue, if you believe ...

What is a demand letter?

A demand letter is simply a letter you can draft demanding your security deposit back. You may even want to consider hand-delivering the letter and having the landlord sign and date your copy as proof that they received the letter. If discussing the issue with your landlord fails to solve the problem, try to compromise.

What can a mediator do for landlord tenant issues?

You can also suggest mediation. A mediator can help ease tension and bring both sides to an agreement. Some state and local agencies offer mediation services for landlord-tenant issues, so be sure to ask to see if that might be an option.

Can you sue a landlord for a security deposit?

Filing a lawsuit can result in a recovery greater than the amount of your actual security deposit if the court finds that your landlord has acted in bad faith. In such cases, the award could be two or three times the amount of your security deposit.

Can you ask a landlord to do a move out inspection?

You can also ask the landlord to do a move-out inspection of the rental unit before you move out. After the inspection, request an itemized statement of anything that the landlord believes you need to fix before you vacate the apartment.

What happens if you are evicted illegally?

If you believe your landlord is trying to evict you illegally, you can sue and try to remain in the property. Furthermore, “if you were wrongfully evicted and incurred moving fees or temporary housing costs because of it, a court can order your landlord to reimburse you for those costs,” Tamkin says.

What happens if you lose a countersuit against your landlord?

The worst consequence? Your landlord could file a lawsuit against you, and if you lose a countersuit, you could be responsible for damages that the landlord suffered.

What is a demand letter for landlord?

He recommends writing your landlord what’s called a “demand letter”—a request in writing that states what you want your landlord to do.

What to do if tenant rights are violated?

Your first step, if you suspect your tenant rights are being violated, is to review your lease. Your rental agreement spells out important terms such as your rent, size of security deposit, lease termination date, and obligations as a tenant. This may help you determine whether you have a case or not.

Who is responsible for home repairs?

Home repairs are typically the landlord’s responsibility, Tamkin says. So let’s say you paid for necessary repairs and your landlord agreed to reimburse you. If he reneges, you could sue to get the money. Just make sure you discussed springing for this expense before you pay for it.

Can a landlord barge in?

As a tenant, you’re entitled to “quiet enjoyment” of your home—meaning your landlord can’t barge in whenever. A landlord is legally allowed to enter a property to make repairs, says Tamkin, “but someone who repeatedly enters a property to see what the tenant is doing for no legal reason could be in violation.”.

Can attorney fees vary?

Attorney fees can vary significantly depending on the nature of your claim, Tamkin says. “You can have an easy case where the landlord decides to settle quickly and the legal fees are relatively modest, but if it’s prolonged litigation where the landlord fights the lawsuit, attorney fees can be very high.”.

What happens after you present your case to the judge?

Winning your case. After you present your case, the judge will either give an immediate verdict or will send their verdict in the mail. The judge in my case decided to send the verdict in the mail. This was to allow the landlord to send in additional information to support their claim.

How long does it take to get a special deputy?

You have to go back to the court to file for a “special deputy”, which has to be approved by a judge. This process could take a couple of days or weeks.

What to say in a letter to a landlord?

In your letter, state what you want (your full security deposit) and that you will file suit if not rectified by a certain date. This part of the process does not require anything from the court. You simply send it to your landlord.

How early should I go to court?

You should plan to get to court 15-30 minutes early. Parking near a courthouse is usually challenging to find a spot, so get there early so you don’t stress over parking. To my surprise, when I showed up to court I was not the only case being heard that day. You may be one of several cases heard that day. You could be first case to be heard or the last. That being said, I would prepare to be in court for 1-3 hours that day just to be safe.

What to do if your security deposit is not received?

Take your landlord to small claims court. If your demand letter does not successfully get your security deposit back, the next step as a tenant is to sue your landlord in small claims court in order to get your money.

How long does it take for a landlord to return a security deposit?

If your landlord doesn't return your security deposit within 30 days of moving out of your rental (the typical timeline, though it varies by state), the first step you should take is rechecking your lease. What does it state about how the rental should look at move-out?

What to do if your landlord won't return your security deposit?

Write a demand letter . If your landlord still won't return your security deposit once you've spoken with him or her, you will want to write what's known as a demand letter to officially request it back. The letter will include things like your move-out date and the amount you're owed.

What documents do you need to go to small claims court?

If you do go to small claims court, it's important to bring any and all tenant documentation. This includes photos from your move-in and move-out, a copy of your demand letter, your move-out checklist, your lease, copies of additional correspondence with your landlord, and any other useful information.

Do you have to know your tenant rights?

You should also know your tenant rights in the state you live in. Tenant rights vary from state to state, and it's important to know yours as they relate to security deposits. In some states, for example, landlords who keep all or part of your security deposit must provide written proof of what they're using the deposit for.

Who makes the final call in favor of the tenant?

You and your landlord both attend the hearing, and a judge makes the final call in favor of either the tenant or landlord. If you think you need assistance during this process, you can always consult local housing organizations, who can provide free and low-cost advice.