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Can they keep my deposit after completing the walkthrough?

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  • Can they keep my deposit after completing the walkthrough?

    Hello,

    I just moved out of a condo that I had rented for 2 years from the owner. I did the walk through about 2 weeks ago now and we agreed that there was nothing more then 'normal wear and tear' so i was given a hand written letter on notebook paper stating that I could expect my deposit back and i surrendered the keys. I was asked to email them my account number so the funds could be wire transferred to me (which i kept forgetting to do), so today I emailed them my forwarding address to have the deposit mailed instead.

    My land lord replied informing me that they would be keeping the deposit. they said that a small toy was inserted in one of the space heaters so it caught fire and had to be replaced. According to him It caused a few hundred dollars in damage (exceeding my security deposit) and so they would keep the deposit but call it 'even'.

    Which leads me to my question:
    I understand they need to protect their investment, but can they Legally come to me seeking cost for damages that occurred after the walk through was completed and i moved out? Remember, i have a signed document stating that my deposit would be returned -- does that mean anything? If not, What can i do to protect myself from them coming after me for more money later on if a signed document means nothing in this case?

    thank you everyone for your help.

  • #2
    Re: Can they keep my deposit after completing the walkthrough?

    Originally posted by leapfrogy180 View Post
    Hello,

    I just moved out of a condo that I had rented for 2 years from the owner. I did the walk through about 2 weeks ago now and we agreed that there was nothing more then 'normal wear and tear' so i was given a hand written letter on notebook paper stating that I could expect my deposit back and i surrendered the keys. I was asked to email them my account number so the funds could be wire transferred to me (which i kept forgetting to do), so today I emailed them my forwarding address to have the deposit mailed instead.

    My land lord replied informing me that they would be keeping the deposit. they said that a small toy was inserted in one of the space heaters so it caught fire and had to be replaced. According to him It caused a few hundred dollars in damage (exceeding my security deposit) and so they would keep the deposit but call it 'even'.

    Which leads me to my question:
    I understand they need to protect their investment, but can they Legally come to me seeking cost for damages that occurred after the walk through was completed and i moved out? Remember, i have a signed document stating that my deposit would be returned -- does that mean anything? If not, What can i do to protect myself from them coming after me for more money later on if a signed document means nothing in this case?

    thank you everyone for your help.
    Short answer? YES.

    Presumably, the move out inspection was a cursory look for the obvious issues. If a toy was left in a space heater, it wouldn't necessarily be that obvious in the cursory view. It probably wasn't even noticed until the heater was turned on. So, yes, if you were negligent, they can hold you responsible for replacing the damaged space heater.

    I would, however, demand to see something that shows the original purchase date and price of the heater. You are only liable for the depreciated value and not replacement value.
    "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
    "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
    "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."

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    • #3
      Re: Can they keep my deposit after completing the walkthrough?

      All states allow a landlord a certain amount of time to return the security deposit or provide the former tenant with information regarding the status of this deposit. The length of time each state allows varies among states but because of this the final walk through is often not the "end all" of finding damages after the tenant vacates the rental unit.

      The landlord is under the legal obligation to notify the tenant of the status of their security deposit within the required time frame for their particular state; some states also require that the landlord provide receipts to document costs of repair damages above normal wear and tear.

      Gail

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