When you have a landlord-tenant dispute, hiring a lawyer may be the best way to ensure that you get the results that you want. While there are a various reasons one may need an attorney for landlord-tenant issues, including lead paint and discrimination, this article will only briefly discuss issues related to security deposits and eviction.
Security deposit: A landlord may not charge more than two months’ rent for a security deposit. If you are overcharged or the landlord does not return the proper amount owed, you may recover up to three times the amount charged, plus reasonable attorney’s fees.
Within 15 days of occupying the premise, you may request a list of all existing damages. If a list is not provided, the landlord may be liable for three times the security deposit. Generally, a landlord must pay his or her tenants the interest accrued on their security deposit (minus any deductions) and return the security deposit within 45 days of the tenancy ending. Otherwise the landlord liable for three times the damage and reasonable attorney fees. A landlord cannot withhold damages for ordinary wear and tear. Moreover, a landlord cannot withhold any of your security deposit unless he or she provides you with a list of damages and a statement of what it cost to repair the damages within 45 days of your tenancy ending.
A landlord may only withhold from your security deposit an amount equal to his damages. For example, if a lease was broken and a property was unrented for only one week, the landlord may only withhold a week’s worth of rent from the security deposit, plus any expenses related to re-renting the property and fixing damages. A landlord must make a reasonable effort to re-rent the apartment to limit losses.
Eviction: If you are evicted your rights are a little different, but you are still able to collect damages from you landlord. Prior to you being evicted, landlords must first go to court and have a judge issue an order against you. A landlord may not move your belongings out of your home, change your locks, or stop your utilities without a court order. Also, landlords cannot evict you, increase your rent, or fail to provide you with services because you filed a law suit, complained to the housing inspection agency, or complained to him or her.