Did my landlord wrongly withhold money from my security deposit?

I received a check for my deposit along with a statement listing damages beyond normal wear and tear as being : carpet cleaning, paint and cleaning supplies, and labor which totaled over $400. Prior to moving the housing agent said she didn’t see any damage beyond normal wear and tear so I asked for a detailed explanation of what exact damage occurred with proof (like photos). Do I have a case if they are unable to prove there was actually damage beyond normal wear and tear? Also, the agent said they always clean the carpet & do a deep cleaning after a tenant moves.

Asked on July 10, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country, the former landlord is to return all or part of a tenant's security deposit within 21 to 45 days of move out depending upon the state where the rental is located.

If the full amount is not returned, then an itemization of the charges with back up documentation must be given to the former tenant by the former landlord.

Unless your written lease allowed for charges for cleaning and painting from your security deposit, the $400 plus amount charged you seems improper in that the costs that you have listed ordinarily are the costs of doing business for the landlord and are not something that the security deposit is to cover. A security deposit ordinarily is for damages, not clean up post move.

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