If 3 people paid separate security deposits, can landlord keep all 3 for 1 person’s damage?

UPDATED: Jul 22, 2010

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If 3 people paid separate security deposits, can landlord keep all 3 for 1 person’s damage?

My daughter rented an apartment and each tenant paid $750 SD. 1 tenant watched a cat for a friend. Cat scratched up carpet in front of all doors. Same tenant spilled red paint on carpet. Tenant admits to these things. Landlord kept all 3 girls $750 for replacement of entire carpet. Is that allowed? Does my daughter and other girl have to sue the girl with the cat and paint for their $750? Or, since they all paid separately, and the one girl admits wrong doing, should my daughter and the other get their SD back?

Asked on July 22, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The landlord is entitled to keep the security deposit to make good the losses. It is not the landlord's concern who caused the damage among the three tenants, or how the tenants came up with or divied up the money. In any event, the total deposit stands as compensation for damage to the apartment by any of the tenants. You daughter and the other roommate may possibly have a cause of action against the tenant who caused the damage, inasmuch as her negligent actions have caused them losses; however, notwithstanding any liability that woman may have vis-a-vis her cotenants, the landlord is entitled to keep the entire security deposit if the damages are large enought to warrant or require it.

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