What to do about the wrongful withholding of a security deposit?

We but rented a vacation home out of state for 7 days last summer. The landlord is claiming we did damage to a fence and driveway that we did not do, and we know we did not (unfortunately we have no pictures as evidence). We have asked her to provide proof of damages and proof of receipts that our $500 was used to fix the alleged issues. What rights of documentation do we have? Is there any support for us to insist on proof of damage and investment of our damage deposit before she withholds it?

Asked on October 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the landlord that you rented a vacation home from last summer is refusing to return your security deposit, you need to carefully read the rental agreement for the unit you rented in that its terms and conditions control the obligations owed to you by the owner and vice versa absent conflicting state law.

Look to see what the purpose of the security deposit is for in the rental agreement assuming it is mentioned and the right of the owner to withhold it.

You need to remember that the owner has the burden of proof in demonstrating that your security deposit has been forfeited for the claimed damages.

I would write the owner a letter demanding the return of your security deposit by a certain date asking for proof that your deposit is at risk for forfeit. If you do not get an adequate answer to the letter, your option is small claims court.

Good luck.

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