Wrongful Retention of Security Deposits
James Meyrat is a lawyer in San Antonio helping tenants recover damages against greedy landlords and apartment owners who wrongfully hold onto your security deposits after a lease is over.
A successful lawsuit against the landlord for wrongful retention of security deposits can get damages of up to 3 times the cost of the withheld security deposit. So, if your security deposit was $1000, you could get up to $3000. The best part of all, San Antonio consumer and tenant rights attorney, James Meyrat, will handle you security deposit case for free and will cover all court costs too. He only gets paid if he wins your case.
There are several situations when a Landlord wrongfully retains security deposits.
Not Returning in 30 days: You may have a claim if your landlord did not return your security deposit in 30 days after you moved out of the apartment. Landlords cannot just keep the security deposit as additional income, never intending to return any portion of it.
Unlawful Deducting Damages: You may have a claim if your landlord makes-up fictional damages not covered on the lease or deducts damages for normal wear-and-tear in order to decrease the amount of the security deposit that is returned.
No Itemized List of Deductions: If your landlord does not provide you an itemized list of deductions to your security deposit in 30 days after your moved out, the landlord acted in bad faith and owes you three times the portion of the deposit wrongfully withheld. Maybe, the landlord told you orally you won’t get the deposit back because you were responsible for the expensive plumbing bills caused by all those tampons you threw in there. If the landlord never makes a written itemization of those damages in 30 days, then the landlord can be sued for wrongful withholding of your security deposit.
What is considered “Normal Wear-and-Tear”?
Normal wear-and-tear is what occurs if a reasonable person was living in the premises. Here are some items that get deducted from security deposits due to wear-and-tear. Here are two common examples of normal wear-and-tear that frequently get wrongfully deducted from security deposits.
Carpet – landlords should not be able to replace all carpet once a tenant leaves. If a carpet is ten years old and worn, the last tenant should not be stuck with the bill to replace it unless the tenant destroyed it.
Paint and Walls – Landlords must expect tenants to make their house their home. Pictures will be hung. Drapes will be mounted. Paint will be scratched. Baseboards will get smudges. Smaller holes used for decoration (nail holes/screw holes) in most instances, should be considered normal wear and tear.
Equipment and Durable Goods – Air conditioners, furnaces, refrigerators, washers and dryers, dishwashers, stoves, ovens, and microwaves age. After several years, they simply must be replaced. Unless the tenant has literally caused the damage through action or neglect, it is the landlords responsibility to replace these items when they die or are otherwise on the verge of death.
Tenant Dos and Dont’s in Security Deposit Disputes
Always Give Your Forwarding Address. You may leave it on the lease papers or send it by certified mail. Until the written forwarding address is received, the landlord has no duty to return the security deposit or give a written description of damages and charges.
Give notice of your intent not to renew your lease. Before you move out, you should provide written notice of your intent not to renew your lease. Check your lease to determine how many days in advance you must provide notice. Many leases, such as the Texas Apartment Association lease, require at least thirty days. Keep a copy of this notice.
Do a walk through and take pictures of the apartment before you are gone for good
Never withhold last months rent on grounds that the security deposit will cover the balance
Read the fine print of your lease papers to see what kind of damages the landlord can and cannot deduct from the security deposit. Leases agreements often require tenants to pay charges for the following: cleanup, late rent payments, violating pet restrictions, unpaid utilities, unreimbursed service charges, utilities for repairs or cleaning, admitting company representatives to remove residents telephone or TV cable services, opening the apartment for resident or occupant who has lost or forgotten key, duplicate keys, unreturned keys, insufficient light bulbs, scratches, burns, stains or unapproved holes, removing or rekeying unauthorized locks or latches, reletting costs, returned check charges.
Read the lease to see if you are required to give advance notice of your intent to move-out as a condition to get the security deposit back.
Do you think you did everything right and the landlord is still wrongfully holding on to your security deposit? Then call James Meyrat, an experienced tenant rights lawyer in San Antonio who will sue your old landlord and get you up to 3 times the retained security deposit. James Meyrat will take your case for free and pay all the court costs. And best of all, you will most likely not have to show up to court to get your money. If you think you have a case, give James Meyrat a call at (210) 735-9911 or email at email@example.com.
Give notice of your intent not to renew your lease and forwarding address
Before you move out, you should provide written notice of your intent not to renew your lease. Check your lease to determine how many days in advance you must provide notice. Many leases, such as the Texas Apartment Association lease, require at least thirty days. Keep a copy of this notice.
You should also give the landlord a written notice with your forwarding address as soon as you know what it is. It can be in the same notice as your intent not to renew or it can be done separately at a later time. A landlord must be given a forwarding address before you are entitled to get back a security deposit. It is never too late to do this.
Tip: The forwarding address can be any place that you can be sent mail. It can be a friend or relative for example. If you are moving out of town, it is best to leave a local forwarding address. If the landlord thinks you are leaving town, it might be more inclined to keep your deposit.
Step 2: Do a walk through and take pictures