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Is it legal for a landlord to keep a security deposit for vandalism done to a property's exterior, damage was not done by tenant

West Chester, PA |

There is surveillance video proving it wasn't the tenants or anyone coming or going into tenant's apartment

Attorney Answers 2


Generally to retain a security deposit, the landlord has to provide a list of itemized deductions with 30 days of demand for its return (at the end of the term). After receipt of those deductions, you can attack the validity of his or her charges by filing a claim in landlord tenant court. At that time, you can point to the fact that the exterior of the property is the responsibility of the landlord, not yours and that you did not cause the damages. Furthermore, to apply a deposit to repair a common area, the lease would have to expressly grant that right to the landlord.

While you have this dispute, you should ensure that the landlord is handling the deposit correctly. In Pennsylvania, a security deposit of greater than $100 is required to be held in a Federally regulated escrow account and the landlord is required notify each of the tenants in writing, giving the name and address of the banking institution in which such deposits are held. Furthermore, if the funds are held for more than two years, they must be placed in an interest bearing escrow account. As an alternative to maintaining the funds in an interest bearing escrow savings account, a landlord is permitted to secure those sums with a bond, however, the interest must still be awarded to the tenant. At the end of each rental year, the landlord is required to pay interest dividends to the tenant. Finally, the landlord may hold no more than two months rent as security in the first year of the lease and may hold no more than one months rent as security for any year thereafter. For more information on security deposits, see the below link.

Stew Crawford, Jr., Esq.

Crawford Law Firm
A Full Service Law Firm Serving Pennsylvania & New Jersey

Philadelphia Area Office
223 North Monroe Street
Media, Pennsylvania 19063


All information provided in this comment is intended for informational purposes only and does not, by itself, create an attorney client relationship. If you wish to consult with an attorney, or have any questions concerning this comment, please feel free to contact our offices through any of the above contact sources.

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No. Not on the facts you provided.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

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