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Christopher R. Minelli

Christopher Minelli’s Answers

174 total


  • What happens because I didn't deposit the security deposit into an escrow account?

    PA law says the security deposit must be deposited in an escrow account at a bank. I didn't know. I did return his security deposit less damages, but he's unhappy about those damages. What happens now? Can the tenant cause me trouble? Does thi...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Your question is a good one and should probably be directed to a local attorney in your state. The answer is heavily dependent on local law, but I can give you a basic overview of security deposits for your reference.

    Generally, a security deposit is separate from the rent payments (sometimes called "dependent convenants" in the lease) and the deposit cannot be used for rent payments or matters not germane to the specifics of why the deposit is given as delineated in the lease. This is because the deposit (in most states) is considered to be the property of the tenant even if in the custody of the landlord.

    A landlord is usually required to place a security deposit in a separate account. This is known as not "commingling" the funds. Basically, a security deposit remains the tenant's property, and a landlord has a fiduciary duty to keep it separate and maintain an accurate accounting. Also, the landlord has a duty to return unused funds with a final accounting after the tenancy is ended.

    In many states, a landlord is also responsible for paying the tenant a small amount of interest on the deposit. This amount can sometimes be raised by local ordinances, especially in large metropolitan areas.

    I would recommend speaking to a local lawyer because security deposits are heavily dependent on local landlord-tenant ordinances or state law. Each state treats the relationship between landlord and security deposit the same, but the specifics (i.e. interest rate and remedies) are different.

    Good luck!

    NOTE: This answer is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed in that way. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and no such relationship may be created absent a signed retainer agreement. The author is licensed in Illinois only, and his answer is for educational purposes alone.

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  • Landlord in NJ never deposited security deposit

    I live with my landlord in NJ since Jan'09 and she never deposited the security check that I gave her at the time of move-in. After I expressed my desire to move out in Aug'09, she told me that the check was never deposited and is asking for anoth...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Your question is a good one and should probably be directed to a local attorney in your state. The answer is heavily dependent on local law, but I can give you a basic overview of security deposits for your reference. Based on your question, it is likely New Jersey does not follow the "majority rule" that most states follow. Thus, a local attorney would be invaluable.

    Generally, a security deposit is separate from the rent payments (sometimes called "dependent convenants" in the lease) and the deposit cannot be used for rent payments or matters not germane to the specifics of why the deposit is given as delineated in the lease. This is because the deposit (in most states) is considered to be the property of the tenant even if in the custody of the landlord.

    A landlord is usually required to place a security deposit in a separate account. This is known as not "commingling" the funds. Basically, a security deposit remains the tenant's property, and a landlord has a fiduciary duty to keep it separate and maintain an accurate accounting. Also, the landlord has a duty to return unused funds with a final accounting after the tenancy is ended.

    In many states, a landlord is also responsible for paying the tenant a small amount of interest on the deposit. This amount can sometimes be raised by local ordinances, especially in large metropolitan areas.

    I would recommend speaking to a local lawyer because security deposits are heavily dependent on local landlord-tenant ordinances or state law. Each state treats the relationship between landlord and security deposit the same, but the specifics (i.e. interest rate and remedies) are different.

    Good luck!

    NOTE: This answer is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed in that way. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and no such relationship may be created absent a signed retainer agreement. The author is licensed in Illinois only, and his answer is for educational purposes alone.

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  • I think my landlord is going to keep my security deposit. May forfeit the deposit in leiu of paying the last month's rent?

    My landlord has given me a written "work order" detailing jobs that I need to complete before moving out, some of which were existing before I moved in. My landlord wants to complete maintanance that she is required to do before I move out, ie: w...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Your question is a good one and should probably be directed to a local attorney in your state. The answer is heavily dependent on local law, but I can give you a basic overview of security deposits for your reference.

    Generally, a security deposit is separate from the rent payments (sometimes called "dependent convenants" in the lease) and the deposit cannot be used for rent payments or matters not germane to the specifics of why the deposit is given as delineated in the lease. This is because the deposit (in most states) is considered to be the property of the tenant even if in the custody of the landlord.

    A landlord is usually required to place a security deposit in a separate account. This is known as not "commingling" the funds. Basically, a security deposit remains the tenant's property, and a landlord has a fiduciary duty to keep it separate and maintain an accurate accounting. Also, the landlord has a duty to return unused funds with a final accounting after the tenancy is ended.

    In many states, a landlord is also responsible for paying the tenant a small amount of interest on the deposit. This amount can sometimes be raised by local ordinances, especially in large metropolitan areas.

    I would recommend speaking to a local lawyer because security deposits are heavily dependent on local landlord-tenant ordinances or state law. Each state treats the relationship between landlord and security deposit the same, but the specifics (i.e. interest rate and remedies) are different.

    Good luck!

    NOTE: This answer is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed in that way. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and no such relationship may be created absent a signed retainer agreement. The author is licensed in Illinois only, and his answer is for educational purposes alone.

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  • Can we get our security deposit back? We gave our landlord a security deposit equal to 1.5 months of rent. When we moved out,

    we gave written notice, but didn't put our forwarding address on the notice. We had the carpets professionally cleaned as per the lease, and cleaned everything. We had verbal contact with the landlord during the clean up process. She said that ...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Your question is a good one and should probably be directed to a local attorney in your state. The answer is heavily dependent on local law, but I can give you a basic overview of security deposits for your reference.

    Generally, a security deposit is separate from the rent payments or other money given to the landlord (sometimes called "dependent convenants" in the lease) and the deposit cannot be used for rent payments or matters not germane to the specifics of why the deposit is given as delineated in the lease. This is because the deposit (in most states) is considered to be the property of the tenant even if in the custody of the landlord.

    A landlord is usually required to place a security deposit in a separate account. This is known as not "commingling" the funds. Basically, a security deposit remains the tenant's property, and a landlord has a fiduciary duty to keep it separate and maintain an accurate accounting. Also, the landlord has a duty to return unused funds with a final accounting after the tenancy is ended.

    In many states, a landlord is also responsible for paying the tenant a small amount of interest on the deposit. This amount can sometimes be raised by local ordinances, especially in large metropolitan areas.

    I would recommend speaking to a local lawyer because security deposits are heavily dependent on local landlord-tenant ordinances or state law. Each state treats the relationship between landlord and security deposit the same, but the specifics (i.e. interest rate and remedies) are different.

    Good luck!

    NOTE: This answer is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed in that way. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and no such relationship may be created absent a signed retainer agreement. The author is licensed in Illinois only, and his answer is for educational purposes alone.

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  • Beyond normal wear and tear cost? Can Landlord deduct from security deposit?

    Looking closer at a lease I just signed, the Landlord has included a provision that states "dirt on any surface (including carpet) is not considered normal wear and tear. Also please note the cost of carpet cleaning will be withheld from the Secur...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Likely, no. "Wear and tear" at common law was not permitted, so a tenant would be liable to a landlord under the default rule for even basic wear and tear. This is why most form leases today provide a concession for reasonable wear and tear.

    Thus, a landlord in most instances can define what is and is not reasonable wear and tear and act accordingly. Here, it appears that the landlord has exempted carpet dirt in order to form a legal basis to deduct carpet cleaning from the security deposit of each tenant that lives in the unit. I would consult a local attorney to make sure West Virginia does not have any specific statutes on point, but the majority rule indicates what the landlord is doing is probably OK.

    NOTE: This answer is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed in that way. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and no such relationship may be created absent a signed retainer agreement. The author is licensed in Illinois only, and his answer is for educational purposes alone.

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  • What are the laws for the return of a security deposit if I rented their home? Signed the lease at real estate office.

    I found the laws pertaining to "units of 5 or more" landlords and the landlords of "units of 25 or more" but what about if they only own 2 properties? What are the laws regarding security deposit return?

    Christopher’s Answer

    In the absense of a specific statute, the lease will control. In Illinois, a lease is a contract and is interpreted by contract principles. Contracts may have stipulated damages, but such damages must bare some relation to actual loss by the non-breaching party or else the damages will be unenforced as a "penalty."

    The question here is whether the security deposit would be considered damages or a penalty under the law. Visiting an attorney would be recommended, as the attorney would be able to look at your lease and interpret it in light of facts you can provide.

    NOTE: This answer is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed in that way. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and no such relationship may be created absent a signed retainer agreement. The author is licensed in Illinois only, and his answer is for educational purposes alone.

    See question 
  • Can my landlord keep my security deposit? He is claiming my use of ice melt caused the steps in front of house to crumble.

    Landlord claims my use of ice melt caused the concrete steps to crumble and he is keeping my security deposit. Is this considered normal wear and tear?

    Christopher’s Answer

    Your question is a good one and should probably be directed to a local attorney in your state. The answer is heavily dependent on local law, but I can give you a basic overview of security deposits for your reference.

    Generally, a security deposit is separate from the rent payments (sometimes called "dependent convenants" in the lease) and the deposit cannot be used for rent payments or matters not germane to the specifics of why the deposit is given as delineated in the lease. This is because the deposit (in most states) is considered to be the property of the tenant even if in the custody of the landlord.

    A landlord is usually required to place a security deposit in a separate account. This is known as not "commingling" the funds. Basically, a security deposit remains the tenant's property, and a landlord has a fiduciary duty to keep it separate and maintain an accurate accounting. Also, the landlord has a duty to return unused funds with a final accounting after the tenancy is ended.

    In many states, a landlord is also responsible for paying the tenant a small amount of interest on the deposit. This amount can sometimes be raised by local ordinances, especially in large metropolitan areas.

    I would recommend speaking to a local lawyer because security deposits are heavily dependent on local landlord-tenant ordinances or state law. Each state treats the relationship between landlord and security deposit the same, but the specifics (i.e. interest rate and remedies) are different.

    Good luck!

    NOTE: This answer is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed in that way. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and no such relationship may be created absent a signed retainer agreement. The author is licensed in Illinois only, and his answer is for educational purposes alone.

    See question 
  • Am I entitle to a bank statement where my security deposit is deposited? And what about the interest earned?

    I want to live out my security deposit but my landlord is trying to hold it. The house is going thru a foreclosure and a posted sherrif sale is listed 5 days before my lease is ended. I don't beleive I would get my money back because the landlor...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Your question is a good one and should probably be directed to a local attorney in your state. The answer is heavily dependent on local law, but I can give you a basic overview of security deposits for your reference.

    Generally, a security deposit is separate from the rent payments (sometimes called "dependent convenants" in the lease) and the deposit cannot be used for rent payments or matters not germane to the specifics of why the deposit is given as delineated in the lease. This is because the deposit (in most states) is considered to be the property of the tenant even if in the custody of the landlord.

    A landlord is usually required to place a security deposit in a separate account. This is known as not "commingling" the funds. Basically, a security deposit remains the tenant's property, and a landlord has a fiduciary duty to keep it separate and maintain an accurate accounting. Also, the landlord has a duty to return unused funds with a final accounting after the tenancy is ended.

    In many states, a landlord is also responsible for paying the tenant a small amount of interest on the deposit. This amount can sometimes be raised by local ordinances, especially in large metropolitan areas.

    I would recommend speaking to a local lawyer because security deposits are heavily dependent on local landlord-tenant ordinances or state law. Each state treats the relationship between landlord and security deposit the same, but the specifics (i.e. interest rate and remedies) are different.

    Good luck!

    NOTE: This answer is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed in that way. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and no such relationship may be created absent a signed retainer agreement. The author is licensed in Illinois only, and his answer is for educational purposes alone.

    See question 
  • Landlord didn't return security deposit.

    We have had numerous problems with our landlord, and we thought moving would help, but apparently not. They said the security deposit would be returned in 30 days, and it hasn't been. He also hasn't sent a letter explaining why it hasn't been ret...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Your question is a good one and should probably be directed to a local attorney in your state. The answer is heavily dependent on local law, but I can give you a basic overview of security deposits for your reference.

    Generally, a security deposit is separate from the rent payments (sometimes called "dependent convenants" in the lease) and the deposit cannot be used for rent payments or matters not germane to the specifics of why the deposit is given as delineated in the lease. This is because the deposit (in most states) is considered to be the property of the tenant even if in the custody of the landlord.

    A landlord is usually required to place a security deposit in a separate account. This is known as not "commingling" the funds. Basically, a security deposit remains the tenant's property, and a landlord has a fiduciary duty to keep it separate and maintain an accurate accounting. Also, the landlord has a duty to return unused funds with a final accounting after the tenancy is ended.

    In many states, a landlord is also responsible for paying the tenant a small amount of interest on the deposit. This amount can sometimes be raised by local ordinances, especially in large metropolitan areas.

    I would recommend speaking to a local lawyer because security deposits are heavily dependent on local landlord-tenant ordinances or state law. Each state treats the relationship between landlord and security deposit the same, but the specifics (i.e. interest rate and remedies) are different.

    Good luck!

    NOTE: This answer is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed in that way. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and no such relationship may be created absent a signed retainer agreement. The author is licensed in Illinois only, and his answer is for educational purposes alone.

    See question 
  • Withholding Partial Security Deposit for damage

    My renters had a leak and let the water sit under/on the laminate flooring for 2 days before notifying me. The entire room will need to be redone. The damage would have probably been minimal if the leak had been reported immediately. Due to th...

    Christopher’s Answer

    The answer depends on what your written lease says and what local / state landlord-tenant laws in your jurisdiction say about security deposits, notice of problems in the unit, and a landlord's duty to account for the security deposit.

    I would recommend seeking the advice of a local attorney (even if it is a free consultation) to have a legal eye look over your lease and tender an opinion. Generally, modern landlord-tenant law is more tenant friendly than landlord friendly, so it would be worth the trouble to insure your plans are in compliance with local law.

    Good luck!

    NOTE: This answer is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed in that way. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and no such relationship may be created absent a signed retainer agreement. The author is licensed in Illinois only, and his answer is for educational purposes alone.

    See question