Can i sue my x-landlord for non-return of security deposit (bad faith), defamation of character, & pain & suffering?

Asked about 1 year ago - Longview, TX

Long story short, today (May 20th, 2012) is our 30th day after officially ending our lease and we have yet to receive our security deposit, but instead got an email (which according to the Texas property code we are disregarding) addressed to my husband at my email address stating that we now owe them an additional $740! It is plainly stated in the e-mail that the amounts are rounded (obviously inaccurate). We are being accused of leaving the house a disaster area and unlivable to the extent of having to hire professional cleaners! We are also being accused of stealing, and physically damaging the home by putting "huge holes" in the walls and forcing them to re-carpet & re-paint the entire home, as well as charging us for 11days worth of unpaid rent, etc...all these are lies! Please help

Additional information

The 11days worth of rent, has actually already been handled by a judge when they attempted and unsuccessful eviction. They insisted on us linking our bank accounts to do automatic drafts for rent, but there were problems and we ultimately told them we would make a cash deposit and they agreed to this with no penalty. They are also accusing of stealing a 100ft extension cord (that was returned in early august after i forced him to pick up his tools & other personal items from our residence) he has obviously lost or misplaced it. And a 50gallon trash can that they told us to keep as a "house warming gift." When they asked to return it i agreed, but it was full of trash until today (5/20/13) and I wasn't going to put a trashcan full of trash into my escalade with 4 kids in it. That is unsanitary! They are charging us to replace door knobs, and unsure why. The total deposit was $1250 and they are charging us $1990...this is all nothing but lies and trash talk.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Tyler Aaron Hickle

    Contributor Level 8

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . It sounds like you have a case against your landlord for wrongful retention of a residential security deposit. You do not have a case for defamation of character. The landlord's conduct also does not rise to the level that would justify pain and suffering (this is more like annoyance and irritation).

    Security deposits for residential leases are governed by subchapter C of chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code.

    A landlord must return a security deposit, minus any deductions for damages above wear and tear, within 30 days of receiving written notice of the tenant's forwarding address. The landlord has no duty to refund until that notice is given. You did not specifically say you gave your landlord your forwarding address. You should be prepared to prove that you gave notice in court. I recommend sending the notice of forwarding address via certified mail, return receipt requested. It only costs a few bucks and it is really good proof.

    A landlord cannot deduct for normal wear and tear. A landlord has the burden of proving that any portion of the security deposit they keep is reasonable if you take this case to court. However, your case will be much stronger if you have pictures of the residence at the time of move out.

    A landlord who retains any portion of the security deposit in bad faith is liable for $100, triple the amount wrongfully retained, and reasonable attorney's fees.

    Source: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/SOTWDocs/...

    More help: http://www.housing-rights.org/PDF/forms/Securit...
    http://www.housing-rights.org/security_dep.html

    Good luck!

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