If a landlord isn’t giving back my deposit because I posted a negative review on craigslist, is this legal?

Asked on March 22, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

This does not appear to be legal. A landlord may only withhold a security deposit--

1) to pay for repairs required by damage, beyond normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant (or tenant's family, pets, guests); or

2) to cover unpaid rent, which rent was still unpaid when the tenancy ended.

If the landlord feels you defamed him (published an untrue factual statement which damaged his reputation), he may be able to sue you for defamation--but he cannot simply keep your deposit.

If a landlord does illegally hold your deposit, you can sue for its return and frequently additional compensation as well. One option is to sue in small claims court, where you can act as your own attorney (no legal fees).

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