What are a tenant’s rights to receive the return of their security deposit?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What are a tenant’s rights to receive the return of their security deposit?

I signed a lease on a house that is being foreclosed on. The actual owner moved to FL and a relative of theirs is acting as the “rental agent.” The lease states we had to deep clean the house before move in and that we are responsible for fixing all repairs. Our heat went out and he refuses to fix it. The house was filthy and we spent a week and a half cleaning it so that it was suitable to live in. Originally he told us that our deposit was in case we defaulted on rent but now he is holding it for damages. The house is in better condition than when we leased it.

Asked on November 12, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Colorado

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The security deposit is for cleaning and excludes normal wear and tear.

You could file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court to recover the security deposit when you move out.  Your damages should include the amount of the security deposit plus court costs.  Court costs include the court filing fee and process server fee.  If your state has a special landlord/tenant court, then you should file your lawsuit there instead of in Small Claims Court.

It is the landlord's responsibility to maintain the premises in a habitable condition; such as repairing the heater in your situation.  In every lease there is an implied warranty of habitability which requires the landlord to comply with local and state housing codes to maintain the premises in a habitable condition.  You could sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  A breach of the implied warranty of habitability allows the tenant to either withhold rent and remain on the premises and defend against eviction or if the tenant moves, terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease.  An alternative to filing the lawsuit for breach of the implied warranty of habitability would be to have the heater repaired and deduct the cost of repairs from your rent. 

 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption