Am I entitled to my deposit from private owner? What proof do I need to take action?

Asked about 1 year ago - Houston, TX

Hello,

My roommate and I recently moved out of a town home (Texas) where we paid a security deposit and a pet deposit. At the time of residency were month to month or we had completed our lease. The owner is private however there is a property management company for the property (home owner's association). We did not receive our deposit. We were sent itemized list of "damages" totaling more than the deposit. We were charged for carpet cleaning, heavy cleaning, a door that was off track (we reported) and a pet violation fee. The landlord verbally agreed to pay the pet violation fee for "pooping and not picking it up." There are several dog owners, they could not prove that one person did it so they charged a fee to everyone with a dog. The cleaning fees are outlandish because we actually went above and beyond. We left all carpet cleaned, no trash in the apartment, all floors swept, all appliances (refrigerator) cleaned. The carpet had normal wear and tear (no major stains) or tears/did not need replacement. We did not have a check list at the beginning of the lease, we just called/texted or verbally stated issues that were not always fixed. There was no final walk thru; he did not want to walk thru with the apartment. He shook our hand. Told us he would get with us in 30 days and on day 28 he sends us a letter of "damages" that seem like normal wear and tear under the Texas property code Sec 92.104. The lease does not state that we must clean anything but basically return the apartment as it was when we moved in (minus the normal wear and tear). At this point he is not budging. Not returning phone calls. What can we do about our deposit?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Benjamin Robert Peppard

    Contributor Level 12

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It sure appears that he is out of compliance as my colleagues have pointed out. I'm sure a local real estate attorney would be pleased to help you out. Good luck.
    -Ben

  2. Brandy Ann Peeples

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Consult a local attorney. Your only cause of action might be to take the landlord to court (possibly small claims court depending on the amount of the deposit) for improperly withholding the security deposit. Security deposits are only to be withheld for normal wear and tear -- and it sounds like this is exactly what you are describing. Additionally, you might be entitled to punitive damages if you can show that the withholding was improper (for example, where I practice in Maryland, a landlord might be liable for up to 3 times the amount of the security deposit).

    DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided... more
  3. Celia R Reed

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Your landlord is not in compliance with the requirements for failing to refund your security deposit. I would hire a landlord-tenant attorney to file suit for return of the deposit. As he refused to do a walk through, and you have evidence as to the condition of the premises when you left, he can be liable for return of your deposit, punitive damages and your attorney fees and costs.

    Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-... more

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