What are my rights regarding a security deposit thatis not being returned?

I leased a home for 4 ½ years and during that time nothing was repaired, painted or replaced. Now that I moved out the landlord has kept my $2,640 deposit or items  that should have been normal wear and tear. I also had a verbal agreement to pay the second Wednesday of every month and he is now charging me a late fee for all 52 months to keep my deposit. Do I have a recourse?

Asked on September 13, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Did you have a lease for the 4 and a half years or just the first year and you were a month to month thereafter?  Generally, written leases can not be modified orally.  They are contracts and are governed by contract law.  That is a rule.  If, however, you were a month to month tenant and agreed to that term orally, without a late charge fee, then I think you have a very good case to contest.  Also, normal wear and tear is not a charge that can be deducted from a security deposit.  Some states even go so far as to state that re-painting and cleaning can not be deducted (I would try and see if your state has any web sites to let you know about this; try your department of housing or state attorney general's office).  Start an acrtion for recovery of the money.  Good luck.


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