Can I sue my landlord for bodus damage charges?

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Can I sue my landlord for bodus damage charges?

My landlord sent me a list of bogus charges over a month after I moved out. He charged me for 28 hours of “cleaning” at $28/hour. There was tops 5 hours. That could even be a stretch. There were several other charges for things that were done before I moved in. He had our permanent addresses in the lease so he knew where to send the bill or deposit. He also charged us for brand new carpet in 2 rooms. The carpet was ruined but I thought in OH you could only charge for a depreciated value of the carpet or the cost for the rest of its useful life. Do I have a case?

Asked on July 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Here is the law: The landlord must return the security deposit within 30 days after the rental agreement ends and the tenant moves out. The landlord may deduct the cost of any repair for items other than normal wear and tear. All charges must be listed separately by the landlord and the list must be sent with the rest of the deposit. If the tenant does not receive the security deposit or disagrees with the deductions, the tenant may sue to get back the amount in dispute. Under the Landlord-Tenant law, deductions can be made to a security deposit for (a) noncompliance with a tenant's statutory obligations, and (b) noncompliance with the lease requirements. Any security deposit deduction must be itemized. If the landlord does not comply with the statute's requirements, double the amount wrongfully withheld can be awarded to the tenant, plus reasonable attorney fees.

When the tenant gives the landlord an address to send the security deposit, and has given proper notice to end the rental agreement, the security deposit or a written explanation from the landlord must be sent within 30 days or the tenant may sue for twice the amount the landlord has kept and reasonable attorney's fees. Suits for under $1,000 may be brought in Small Claims Court without an attorney.

Now, it appears here that the charge for "cleaning" will not live up to the requirement that the amount be itemized.  I would contest it.  The landlord then runs the risk of paying you double the amount deducted plus attorneys fees.  As for the carpet, it sounds like it was beyond normal wear and tear.  You may lose out on that one.  Good luck.

 


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