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
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