Can my landlord charge me for a “dog smell” he discovered after returning my security deposit 17 days ago?

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Can my landlord charge me for a “dog smell” he discovered after returning my security deposit 17 days ago?

We agreed on the amount to be returned through email, so I have it in writing. Then we did a walk-through together and he did not mention a dog smell. He returned the deposit 17 days ago. Honestly I never noticed a dog smell – we have a small dog and he was under constant supervision. He mentioned the new tenant complained of a dog smell and now he wants us to pay to replace the carets. I was under the impression that our landlord/tenant relationship ended when we exchanged the keys for the security deposit.

Asked on April 16, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The end of the landlord-tenant relationship does not end your obligation to pay for any damage you (or your pets) did to the premises, above or behond normal wear and tear. A landlord is allowed to take action against a tenant for damage even after the return of the security deposit, if the landlord discovered the damage after that. To recover money from you--if you don't pay voluntarily--the landlord would have to sue you and win; that is, the landlord would have to file a lawsuit and show by a "preponderence of the evidence" ("more likely than not") that there is damage beyond normal wear and tear and that you or your pet caused the damage.


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