What to do if my landlord didn’t send an itemized list of deductions from my security deposit a timely manner?

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What to do if my landlord didn’t send an itemized list of deductions from my security deposit a timely manner?

More than a month and a half after we moved out we still didn’t receive our deposit, nor an itemized letter with deductions. We sent a certified letter asking for deposit to be returned. In response landlord sent an itemized list stating it was sent the first time on the last date of our lease. We believe this to be a lie. They also charged a large pet cleaning fee, even though our pets didn’t leave stains. We had paid $300 non-refundable pet fee, plus $200 pet deposit. Landlord claims we owe them some money (about $55) after all the deductions.

Asked on June 30, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Here is the law:

LIMIT: Texas landlords have 30 days after the tenant vacates the premises to refund the security deposit. 

If the tenant fulfills the lease contract, the security deposit is always refundable; a tenant can never waive their right to a refund of the security deposit. However, the landlord can keep part of the deposit if the lease states that a "redecorating fee" or a "make-ready fee" will be deducted from the deposit. If the landlord retains all or part of a security deposit, the landlord is required to give to the tenant a written description and itemized list of all deductions providing the tenant meets certain conditions.  These conditions are:

1. Rent Owed: A landlord is not required to give the tenant a description and itemized list of deductions if the tenant owes rent when the tenant moves out and there is no controversy over the amount of rent owed. If the landlord claims the tenant owes rent and the tenant disputes the claim, the tenant should make a written request for the deposit which states the tenant’s position about the rent.

2. Forwarding Address. The landlord is not required to return a deposit until 30 days after the tenant moves out and only if the tenant gives the landlord the tenant's forwarding address in writing. However, the tenant does not forfeit the right to a refund of the security deposit or to receive a description of damages just because the tenant forgot to turn in a written forwarding address.

You need to take your landlord to small claims court.  I hope that you took pictures of the apartment before you left.  Than will be your proof as to the condition of the aprtment to dispute the landlord's claim.  Good luck to you.


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