What can we do if our former landlord just sent us a letter with bogus charges and will not return our security deposit?

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What can we do if our former landlord just sent us a letter with bogus charges and will not return our security deposit?

We were in the property 2 years and always paid on time. Our only conflicts were about character (landlord is a bully). We have since moved overseas. In this letter he charges us for things like painting (isn’t the landlord supposed to paint between tenants, so why does he charge us?). Not only will he not return our deposit but he wants more money. We have some proof of how a few of these charges are false, but being overseas is quite difficult to negotiate. We are looking into legal advice as to how to get our money back and at the very least not have legal trouble with him alleging we owe him money.

Asked on May 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Connecticut

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, if you want to get money from someone--for example, your security deposit--you will have to sue; there is no other way to do this, and no one can or will do this for you  (e.g. there's no government agency that takes care of this). So even if you feel you have a good case, you need to weight whether it is worthwhile to take this action.

Second, a landlord can charge for painting IF the tenant (or tenant's family, guest, etc.) caused more than usual wear and tear--e.g. wrote on walls, scratched up walls or put holes in walls, etc. The landlord is not obligated to paint between rentals, though many do. Regular freshening-up of paint can't be charged, but repairing or painting over damage, writing, etc. is something a landlord can collect for.

Overall, you need to weigh  the claimed damages, the circumstances, the amount sought from you, and the amount you seek, to decide whether to pay what's requested  or not, and whether to sue for any money back or not.


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