Has your landlord refused to return your security deposit? Even worse, has your landlord kept your security deposit and then tried to sue you in court for even more money? You will want to know your rights.
Within 30 days of the end or termination of the lease, the landlord is required to give the tenant a written list of damages. If the landlord fails to provide the tenant a written list of damages within 30 days, the landlord gives up all rights to keep the security deposit.
As long as the written list is provided within 30 days, the landlord is permitted to keep the security deposit less the damages claimed and must return the unused portion of the security deposit to the tenant.
If the landlord has not returned your security deposit, you should speak to an attorney about filing a claim in court for the security deposit. You’ll be able to recover double the amount of your security deposit by filing a civil claim in court.
If on the other hand, the landlord gives you a written list of damages within 30 days and they exceed the amount of your security deposit and the landlord files a civil complaint against you, you’ll have an opportunity to contest the validity of the charges at the magistrate hearing. If you have any counterclaims against the landlord, you’ll also want to make sure you file a formal counterclaim with the court.
It’s possible that you can argue that the landlord breached the lease agreement, which potentially excuses your requirement to pay rent. Another common counterclaim is the breach of the implied warranty of habitability. If the rented property isn’t in livable condition, you can ask the judge for a judgment against the landlord ordering the landlord to return your rent or at least reduce the amount of rent you owed through an abatement. Common reasons to raise a breach of the implied warranty of habitability include lack of heat, broken windows, broken locks, health code violations, fire code violations, and mold.
If you have a security deposit dispute with your landlord in the Lehigh Valley or surrounding areas, please call me at (484) 362-9286. My office is located in Bethlehem, PA. Call me for a free consultation.