What to do if my landlord just took my whole deposit because she said my rent was late every month but never told me about it?

She took the whole deposit and I said I was late every month after the first month. She never said anything about it, until now. Can my deposit be used like that or can I get it back if we go to court?

Asked on March 9, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The landlord may not simply take your deposit during the course of your rental because you were late with rent. At the end of your rental--e.g. when your lease expires, or if you are evicted--then at that time, if you owe any unpaid rent, the landlord can apply the security deposit to it. But she cannot use it to penalize you or compensate herself for late payment of rent. (Note that if the lease provides for late fees, she can charge those--though not take them out of your security deposit until the end of your rental, and only if they are denominated "additional rent"; also, you can be evicted for habitual late payment of rent, though proper notice must be provided first.)

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