Tenants can sue their landlords for the returning their deposit, depending on factors such as deductions were taken. State security deposit laws usually allow landlords to deduct the following from a tenant’s deposit:
But there are limits to how a landlord may use a tenant’s security deposit. While there are no hard and fast rules, and every move-out is different, the following landlord actions may justify a tenant suing the landlord in small claims court for improper deductions:
If you’ve been unsuccessful in working out an agreement with your landlord regarding what you consider are illegal deductions, you may sue your landlord in small claims court. For state rules and procedures on suing your landlord, see Nolo’ s Filing a Security Deposit Lawsuit Against the Landlord articles.
For practical information on handling disputes with landlords, from move in to move out, see Every Tenant’s Legal Guide, by Janet Portman and Marcia Stewart (Nolo).