what if I can’t prove my former tenant never paid a security deposit

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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what if I can’t prove my former tenant never paid a security deposit

2.5 years ago I rented my house to a couple. The rent was 1000 and the security was to be 500. We had a arranged an agreement that they would pay me an additional 100/month until the security amount was reached. They never did that and I foolishly never followed up on it. That was not put into writing. Now they have moved out and are asking for the deposit, claiming to have paid it and first month’s rent in cash.

Asked on June 15, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Maine


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Don't pay them. If they want to try to get the money from you, they would have to sue you. To win, they will have to prove in court (being the plaintiffs, or persons suing, the burden of proof will be on them) that they did pay. They have no evidence of paying, since they claim they paid in cash and did not get a receipt. Assuming you are at all a credible witness, it will be very difficult for them to prove that they paid you a security deposit when the lack any evidence--I practice landlord-tenant law, and in my experience, judges know that people tend to not pay large sums of money (for rent or security deposits) in cash without getting a receipt, and tend to disbelieve tenants who claim they made large, undocumented payments.

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