When taking money from my deposit, is it legal for my landlord to increase the charges on his itemized list after the 14 day notice deadline?

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When taking money from my deposit, is it legal for my landlord to increase the charges on his itemized list after the 14 day notice deadline?

My landlord sent me and my roommates an itemized list of charges he was taking from our deposit after we moved out. We proved to him that most of the charges were illegal (for wear and tear) so he changed his request of $200 for trash clean up, into $1,000 (our entire deposit). He claims it’s fair because there is a clause in our lase that says he has the right to take any or all of our money if trash is left over. Is this legal?

Asked on August 15, 2011 Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Such a clause may well be enforceable IF it was there in the lease when you signed it and IF the landlord can prove that there was in fact trash. First thing is, check your lease--what does it say? When can the landlord charge you for trash removal? What if any limitations are put on trash removal?  If you don't have a copy of the lease, ask the landlord to show you one...if he won't sue him for the return of the security deposit (you can sue in small claims court, to reduce the cost), where he'll be forced to prove the clause.

Even  if the clause exists, if you don't believe that you left trash or that the cost is justified--and it may well not be, given that he suddenly inflated it when you shot down his other charges (i.e. maybe the original $200 is truly legitimate)--you  could again sue him in small claims and try to prove that it is just a pretext and the facts don't justify the amount of money he's taken.


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