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Landlord will not return Security Deposit because of pet

Discussion in 'Security Deposits' started by Christopher Miller, Nov 3, 2019.

  1. Christopher Miller

    Christopher Miller Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    My landlord will not return my Security Deposit for my apartment. We live in Pennsylvania. Here are the details:

    I moved out of my apartment that my girlfriend and I had been living for the last 3+ years. We never missed a payment. Our final day in the apartment was the 17th of September. We originally signed a 1 year lease dated June 2016-June 2017. After that we had been paying month to month. We did not ever sign a new lease. In the original lease there was a no pet agreement. After the original lease ended, my girlfriend contacted our landlord to ask about us getting a cat which we had been looking to adopt. He agreed on a cat and said he would have to write up a new lease. We told him a couple days later that we were getting the cat. He never said one more thing about it. We got the cat in September of 2017 which was a few months after the original lease was completed. We were great tenants and never missed a payment. He wasn't the greatest landlord and it took several attempts to get him to fix other issues when they arose. We continued paying the amount we had been originally and were never given a new lease to sign. He never even had us sign a new month to month agreement. We lived in the apartment for about two more years until we recently moved out and into our house. After we left the apartment I immediately texted him letting him know we had left the keys and we were out. He asked for my forwarding address and I texted it to him. I waited about 5 weeks and did not receive my deposit back in the mail. When I texted him, he said he was not giving it back because we violated the no pet agreement that we signed in the original lease and he is keeping our deposit. He also said we hid the cat from him. On top of that, he said he was sending us a $300 bill for additional damages, which I assume was to scare us into not pushing the security deposit issue. All of the things he said we're damaged were ridiculous. He sent us pictures and they were nothing more than normal wear and tear and also what he sent us had nothing to do with the cat. For example, one of the pictures he sent was a small dent in the wall from a doorknob because he did not have doorstoppers installed. I read that the landlord must send an itemized receipt for any damages within 30 days or they can't collect anything. Is this true? Also do we have a case since there was never another no pet agreement signed after the first year lease? We did not even sign any other lease. The cat did no damage and we did tell him about getting her.

    I want to take this to small claims court but I want to be sure I have a case before wasting $100 and my time.

    Thanks so much for your advice! I really appreciate it.
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Here is the PA security deposit statute.

    Pennsylvania Security Deposit Law

    He failed to comply. You can sue for the whole security deposit plus interest.

    The cat became irrelevant when he went past the 30 days.
     
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    The cat is a separate issue. He had a remedy when you brought the cat in. He chose not to avail himself of it then. Now that you are out the issue of the cat is moot, other than any damage caused by the cat for which he could have applied to your security deposit had he done so properly.

    Unfortunately, for him, going past the 30 days without giving you an accounting means he forfeits the entire security deposit and he's prohibited from claiming any damages.

    No, a new month to month lease was not necessary. Whether you are still subject to the expiring terms depends on the terms of the expiring lease. PA's landlord tenant statute doesn't address that. If the lease doesn't say (some do) then you are both subject to the statutory requirements.

    And there is only one statutory requirement that you need be concerned with, 250.512(b):

    :D
     
  4. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Since your main question was answered by others, I'll address something that you don't seem to understand. A "scuff" in the paint on the wall behind a piece of furniture may be considered "normal wear and tear". A "dent" in the wall is not "normal wear and tear".
     
    justblue likes this.
  5. Christopher Miller

    Christopher Miller Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for your reply. The dent I was referring to was from the lock on a doorknob because he did not have door stoppers installed. It sounds like since it's been 30+ days without a bill, he is unable to claim anything anyway.

    If I do take him to small claims court, should I put on the original filling paperwork that I would like to sue him for my months rent amount and the cost of the court fees, or is that automatically added in if I win the case? I really appreciate all the help I have received so far!

    I know this should have nothing to do with the outcome of my case, but I'm just curious. Are you are saying that a dent from the doorknob would not be considered normal wear and tear after 3+ years of living there? I'm not trying to argue with you, I'm just curious to what you think a judge would say about this?

    By the way, the landlord also complained that we put up blinds (even though he said we could when we were first looking at the apartment) so I'm guessing he would have made a big deal about installing a doorknob stopper too.

    This place was a decent rental property but it was far from pristine when we moved in.

    Thanks

    I meant the security deposit being held is the amount of one months rent.

    I meant the security deposit being held is the amount of one months rent.

    That's the amount I'm planning on going after in court.
     
  6. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I understand EXACTLY what the damage you caused is. If you can't keep the door from banging in to the wall, then YOU buy a stopper. You know what *I* do in my house? I got those small clear plastic dots, figured out exactly where the door hits, and placed them on the wall. I did this for all my cabinets, for my fridge, for my front door (where it hits a side table when opened all the way) and for my back door where the knob hits the wall. I have ZERO dents in my walls...

    Again, you seem to be on solid ground due to the failure of your former LL to follow the law, but please keep what I said in mind for the future, whether it be a rental, or a home you actually own (and care about).
     
  7. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    That's exactly what I'm saying...damage (a dent) to a wall is not "normal wear and tear".

    Remember those little dots I talked about?
    Another option was to install a hinge-pin with a built in stopper. You could have reinstalled the old pin when you left.
     
  8. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I agree with Zigner. It's damage. If you couldn't keep the door knob from hitting the wall you pay for the hole.

    The hinge pin stoppers work great without having to drill any holes or stick anything on the door and they only cost about $3, a lot less than you pay the landlord for patch and paint.

    I just installed one in my house because the laundry room door knob was hitting the refrigerator door. Works great.

    They install with the existing hinge pin.

    Court fees are added to the judgment page when you when.

    What's this about a month's rent?
     
  9. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Even better :)
     

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