Dear Consumer Ed:
I moved out of my apartment six weeks ago and I still haven’t received my security deposit back. I have emailed the apartment manager twice, but she has not replied. I have the documents showing that all the bills and dues were paid. What can I do?
Consumer Ed says:
Within 30 days after your lease is terminated or you have moved out and notified your landlord, the landlord must refund your security deposit. In the event that there is damage to the premises outside of normal wear-and-tear, the landlord may retain all, or a portion, of the security deposit. If that occurs, the landlord has 30 days to provide you with a written statement identifying the damage, the estimated dollar amount to repair the damage, and a refund, if any, of the difference between the security deposit and the amount withheld for damages. The security deposit, and any statement accompanying it, must be mailed to the last known address of the tenant (even if that address is the vacated rental property); if it is returned as undeliverable and the landlord is unable to locate the tenant after a reasonable effort, the security deposit becomes the property of the landlord 90 days after it was mailed.
Since your landlord has not responded to your emails, you can try other means of reaching him or her, for example, calling or sending a certified letter. However, if the landlord fails to refund your security deposit within the required 30-day period, you should consult with an attorney regarding your options to enforce your rights against your landlord. If your landlord is wrongfully withholding your security deposit, you may file a lawsuit to recover it. In the lawsuit, you can attempt to recover your security deposit, attorney fees, and the cost of filing the legal action. In addition to the security deposit and fees, you may be able to recover three times the amount of the deposit (referred to as “treble damages”) if your landlord owns more than ten units or uses a third party to manage the units.
Submit your own question to Consumer Ed. Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.