If the tenant vacates in compliance with the lease terms, the landlord has 30 days to make any claim against the security deposit by certified mail. If the landlord fails to mail the claim on security deposit by certified mail in 30 days, the entire deposit must be refunded. Thus, is it in the tenant's interest to provide the landlord with a forwarding address. If the landlord does not have a forwarding address, the landlord may send the claim to the leased premises.
The tenant has 15 days to object to the claim in writing or the lanldordd will be permnitted to transfer the deposit from escrow into its operating account.
What may be deducted?
The tenant is entitled to reasonable wear and tear in light of the duration of the occupancy. If the tenant has been in possession for ten years, the contents of the rental unit may have fully deprecciated, leaving nothing claimable. Generally, cleaning and routine repainting are not claimable. The landlord should not charge for repairs not actually performed. The landlord should only charge for amounts actually expended, not for estimates for work not actually performed.
What is my remedy?
If the tenant disputes the landlord's claim against the security deposit, the tenant must sue the landlord for the deposit. The landlord-tenant statute provides that the prevailing party shall recover their court costs and attorneys fees. "Shall" means that the award of costs and fees is manditory. The tenant is considered the prevailing party is any recovery is awarded. So there is no reason for a tenant to hesitate to file suit against the landlord or to utilize the services of an attorney.
Jurisdiction lies in the county where the property is located.
If the amount is $5000 or less, you would file in small claims court.
If the amount is between $5000 and $15,000 you would file in the County Court.
If the amount is above $15,000 you would file in the Circuit Court.