Can a landlord keep a portion of my security deposit because I took a washer and dryer that was left by the last tenant and was not listedin the lease?

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Can a landlord keep a portion of my security deposit because I took a washer and dryer that was left by the last tenant and was not listedin the lease?

I rented an apartment and signed the lease with a property management co. not the landlord. There is no washer and dryer in the lease but the previous tenant left a set. The management co. told me that if the previous tenant didn’t come to get them then I could have them. I recently moved out and gave the washer and dryer to a friend. The landlord withheld $200 of my $1000 security deposit and told me that the units were to stay in the apartment. Can she legally do that if the items are not in the lease and I was told that I could have them?

Asked on November 17, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New Hampshire

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Good question. Typically a security deposit's purpose is to pay for damaged or taken items belonging to the landlord by the former tenant. If you have a written lease for your former rental, I suggest that you carefully read its provisions regarding any provisions concerning a security deposit in that its terms and conditions control the obligations owed to you and vice versa absent conflicting state law.

Do you have anything in writing from the landlord's management company stating that you could have the washer and dryer left behind by the prior tenants? Ordinarily abandoned items left by a tenant belong to the landlord.

Unless you have something in writing signed by the landlord's management company stating you could have the washer and dryer, the landlord is entitled to the $200 for the two items. However he needs to send you some documentation showing their value.


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