Can my landlord hold my security deposit because the garbage disposal doesn’t work for the new tenant but I never used it?

UPDATED: Mar 8, 2012

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Can my landlord hold my security deposit because the garbage disposal doesn’t work for the new tenant but I never used it?

I never used the garbage disposal when I lived there so I didn’t know it was not working.

Asked on March 8, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Legally, from what you write, no--a tenant is only responsible for damage which he or she does to the rental premises, which damage exceeds normal wear and tear. By definition, if  you never used an appliance, you could not be the cause or source of damage.

Practically, if the landlord believes you caused the damage, he or she will probably try to withhold the deposit (though note: a landlord cannot arbitrarily withhold the entire deposit, but rather can only withhold, even in the event of tenant-caused damage, an amount sufficient to repair the condition); if you disagree and want the money back, you'd need to sue, and you would need to be able to convince the court that it is more likely than not (by a "preponderance of the evidence") that you did not cause the damage. You could use your testimoy, the testimony of other residents or household members; etc.

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