What can I do if my landlord is deducting from my security deposit for normal wear and tear?

UPDATED: May 13, 2011

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What can I do if my landlord is deducting from my security deposit for normal wear and tear?

On move-out of the house I rented for 3 years, the landlord inspected and noted only a few minor items, such as wall screws. These were noted on an inspection form and signed by the landlord under the statement, “This inspection notes any damages beyond normal wear and tear and determines any charges to be assessed against the tenant”. Since no charges were noted, I assumed this to mean that the landlord would not apply any and therefore duly signed also, even though some items were clearly wear and tear. The landlord is now trying to hold some of my deposit for repairs. What can I do?

Asked on May 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the landlord. As you seem to be well aware, the landlord may *only* withhold or deduct from a security deposit for (1) damages done by the tenant, his guest, family, or pets ("damages" includes certain kinds of exception cleaning, like having to get oil, red wine, or pet urine stains out); or (2) for any unpaid rent owing at the termination of tenancy. Further, any costs must be proven (e.g. receipts, estimates) and be reasonable (no $5,000 steam cleanings). If the landlord violates these rules, the tenant may sue him or her--including in small claims court, which is faster, easier, and much cheaper (you can represent yourself)--for the money owed and, sometimes, for additional damages as well. Good luck.

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