Does a landlord have the right to withhold security deposit if there were no damages caused by a an unauthorized pet?

My lease stated no pets but I was given a dog toward the end of my stay. The dog did not cause any damage whatsoever and was kept on leash or in crate anytime in the home. My landlord knew of the dog for over 60 days. Says the landlord: “You have completely defaulted on the lease by alllowing a pet to be in our house. This is not acceptable nor was it authorized by me as landlord. You had dog in our house for at least 60 days, more like 90 from what I heard and per our lease agreement I can charge you $125 for the initial amount and $25 per day. At 60 days, you owe me $1625, at 75 you owe me $2375”.

Asked on September 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Oh my.  Listen, someone who knows the law in Texas needs to read your lease because I believe from what you have written here that the contract you signed is unconscionable under the law.  It would be against public policy to charge some one that amount of money.  That issue has to be resolved and it has NOTHING to do with the security deposit, unless Texas allows you to hold the deposit for back rent and that money is deemed as rent owed.  A security deposit is for damages to the apartment during your tenancy, not generally for a breach of the contract or for rent.  Some states do allow you to take back rent from security but most do not.  A simple internet search will let yo know if Texas does or does not.  But I still believe that the money is a fine and would be disallowed if fought. Seek legal help here.  Good luck.


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