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How can we reclaim money if our roommate stole our entire security deposit?

Madison, WI |

Last year I lived in an apartment with three other roommates. We all pitched in equally for the security deposit. At the end of the year, me and two of the other roommates decided to find a new place as that our other roommate had turned to drugs and appeared to be close to dropping out of school. Our other roommate picked up the security deposit after our lease ended (just under $1000) and told us he would get us our share soon. After months of hounding him he admitted that he dropped out of school and his parents cut him off so he used our security deposit to pay two months of his rent. He ended up getting evicted anyway and is now saying that he won't be returning any of our money. Is there any way we can force him to reimburse us?

Attorney Answers 2


Your three main options are to get the money back from him yourselves (this option appears to have failed), to report the roommate to the authorities for theft, or to sue the roommate in small claims court. If the ex-roommate has a drug problem and no money, your judgment might not be worth the paper it is written on. If law enforcement investigates and the local prosecutor is willing to pursue the matter, getting restitution for you is a realistic possibility. Often prosecutors will incentivize quick payment of restitution by offering favorable deals to defendants. On the other hand, if you sue the defendant in small claims court, you could ask for exemplary or punitive damages as the victim of a crime and because the roommate acted without regard to your rights. You could potentially sue the defendant and report him to law enforcement.

Good luck.

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The only way to have authority for the old roommate to pay you back is through a collection lawsuit. Even then, it sounds like it may be difficult if not impossible to force the roommate to pay back the money.

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