Do This If Your Landlord Won’t Return Security Deposit for Normal Wear and Tear!
You’re on the move. You have a new place, cleaned the old one, and now all you need is to wait for your security deposit check to arrive at your new address.
Thirty days pass – the legal timeframe for returning deposits – and nothing.
Then, you find out your landlord won’t return your security deposit.
Tenants across Texas need to know this: your landlord can’t keep your deposit without a legal reason. It’s the law.
Here’s what you need to do if your landlord is withholding your security deposit past the state deadline.
Start with an Investigation
Texas law says landlords must return your security deposit within 30 days minus the cost of repairs.
Ideally, you walked through the check-out process with your landlord, and they pointed out the problems – if any – to you. If not, you’re not out of luck.
If repairs are needed, then you need to know about it. If that’s their excuse for holding on to your money, ask for an itemized list and invoices as proof of service.
While they can charge for needed repairs, a landlord can’t use the deposit to pay for ordinary wear and tear.
From here, you’ll need to use your notes and checklists from move-in and the documents from your move-out day. If you broke the stove, stained the floor, or lost a light fixture, then you may need to pay. However, if the unit looks the same – if not better – then when you moved in, your notes should prevent them from making their case.
If they won’t engage or continue to withhold your deposit, you’ll move to the second phase: a lawsuit.
Landlord Won’t Return Security Deposit? Sue Them
A landlord can’t charge you for wear and tear. If your landlord won’t return your deposit or insists on charging you part of the deposit and won’t relent, you may need to sue.
Small claims court in Texas is known as the Justice Courts. They work quickly and cost little – usually less than $50. You might even get a deferral if you are on a low income.
To get started, you need to ask for the return of the deposit in writing. Your letter needs to contain the facts (move-in/out conditions), your legal rights under Texas law, your terms (when you want the check) and your intent to sue.
Providing this letter before you sue will build your case and, if they don’t respond, you may be able to ask for damage. However, civil actions can’t amount to more than $10,000.
If they don’t respond, then it’s time to sue.
Don’t Give Up on Your Deposit
If your landlord won’t return your security deposit or wants to charge you for wear and tear – don’t give up.
The law says they must return it within 30 days of your departure. And they can’t decline to do so without reason.
Ideally, you have plenty of evidence and a paper trail to back you up. Even if you don’t, you may still be able to sue.
Tenants in Texas have rights. If you are battling a lawless landlord, get in touch to learn more about how you can get your money back.