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Can LL refuse to return deposit due to false claims of damages?

Tacoma, WA |

Due to an oversight on our part, we did not return our mail box key to the LL. He claims he had to pay over $100 to the post office to change the locks. Thinking this was exceedingly high price, I asked at the post office. I was told the post office does not service the boxes or the locks and it is the responsibility of the customer to do it, or to call a locksmith.We feel he made a false statement intentionally to keep the deposit. There are other claims he made that are not as easily verified, but if we show this in SC court, would it weaken his case?

Attorney Answers 1


How do you think the landlord accessed the mailbox when you did not return the keys to the mailbox?

It is true that the US Postal Service does not service mailboxes that are the private properties of their respective owners.

However, without keys to access the mailbox, the landlord likely did have to call a locksmith to gain access to the mailbox.

You can call a few locksmiths to get quotes on how much they would charge to open a mailbox and re-key it.

Lock kits for common types of mailboxes are available in hardware stores for about $10 to $15 dollars. Changing the locks is not all that complicated if there is access to the mailbox. (I gained access to my office's mailbox by asking the mail carrier to open the mailbox.)

If your mailbox is more specialized, the lock may have to be special ordered and may cost more.

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It was explained to me by the postmaster that the mail carrier will remove the lock and leave it in the box so the customer can access the box and repkace the lock

Thuong-Tri Nguyen

Thuong-Tri Nguyen


Not everyone wants to be a handyman. Moreover, there is no law that would require the landlord to change the lock personally. So, there is still that possibility that landlord did hire someone to change the lock, even if changing the lock is simple. When you go to court, the landlord will have to produce documents to prove the costs he is claiming.



But he stated in writing he had to pay the post office. Furthermore, the lock has not been changed. He stated in writing he paid to have it changed but did not change the lock.

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