My landlord kept my security deposite

I was a tenant. I paid $2000 as a security deposit and apparently they charged me $950 for the replacement of the cooktop, floor boards and an extra day stay in the property. First of all, about the extra day, I moved in to the property one day late due to incomplete work in the property. The painting guys were still there doing the painting. I had to stay in a hotel and they said you sign the lease from today but you may leave one day later at the end of lease. It was all verbal. My bad. However, at the end initially they denied that, after I send them the hotel receipt they accept. But now, I see the charge on my bill and they again deny that. I have theemails I did with the manager regarding that. As for the checkout, first one all, my person who I was in contact did not show up and someone else came. She said there is a burn on the stove, and it may need to be replaced. and there are a couple of scratches on the floor. I said I don’t know even if that is due to me or previous tenant beside, there is no problem with them. She said that should be fine, the maintenance guys will come tomorrow and do the assessment. They new that I will fly to west cost and have no access to them so they charge me now for all of these. I contacted them and they absolutely do not want to solve them in a peaceful manner. I asked them to send me back the old stuff that you replaced because it is my right to have it as I paid for that but they said we disposed them. What are the legal steps that I can take for this?

Asked on April 2, 2018 under Real Estate Law, New Hampshire

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) If you did stay a day over without having a written adjustment to your lease term, they can charge you for the day: a written lease can only be modified in writing, not orally.
2) If you caused damage beyond normal "wear and tear" for the amount of time you were in the unit, the landlord can charge you for the repairs. Scratches on the floor could easily be more than wear and tear: floors are typically scratched by being careless by moving furniture or letting chairs scape across the floor, or dropping something on them, etc., not merely by walking on them. A burn on the stove could also easily be more than wear and tear, such as the result of carelessly putting a too-hot pot/pan down on it. What you describe could justify the deductions from your deposit.
If you feel that they charged for things which were normal wear and tear, you could sue them for the money to get it back. However, you would have to sue in the county in which they are located. If you have moved so that is not convenient  to do so, then even if you feel you are owed the money, it may not be cost effective to take action.
3) When you have to pay to replace something you damaged, you do not get ownership of the old items.


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