Do we have any legal recourse ifour landlord is withholding our deposit because the washer broke?

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Do we have any legal recourse ifour landlord is withholding our deposit because the washer broke?

My husband and I needed to relocate. There are no early termination clauses in the lease and our landlord verbally agreed. Since he found someone to take over our lease mid-month, he said he’d give half of our last month’s rent back along with our full deposit. After 3 months of waiting for our refund, he said we broke the washer machine (which had been making a loud noise since we moved in but we didn’t complain), so he will be taking our deposit to buy a new washer. He has also decided to keep all of last months’ rent because he is charging a lower rent to the new tenant.

Asked on November 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you were able to end your lease early but your former landlord has not returned your security deposit under the pretense that after three months post move out that you damaged the washer, I would write him or her a letter demanding its return by a set date or you will file a small claims court action against him or her.

If the time passes and you do not get the security deposit, your recourse is to file a small claims court action. Under the statutes of all sattes in this country, a landlord is required to return a security deposit of a tenant within 21 to 45 days of move out. If not, a debit accounting must be sent to the tenant.  You should also contest the retention of the last month's payment as well. Good luck.


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