The majority of landlord-tenant disputes are arguments over the landlord withholding part or all of the tenant’s damage/security deposit. Typically, disagreements arise when landlords and tenants disagree about whether the tenant is responsible for repairs or cleaning and/or whether tenants believe the charges are unreasonable.
Unresolved disputes may result in a trip to small claims court. Judges will want to see a lease with clauses that support the charges against the tenant’s deposit. A complete move in/move out inspection report showing both the condition when the tenant took possession and at move out will be critical. Copies of invoices documenting charges will be needed. Judges will also check to see that the landlord complied with all aspects of the Residential Landlord Tenant Act, including mailing a “full and specific” deposit accounting within 21 days of the tenant vacating the property. Judges tend to put the burden of proof on landlords so document everything!
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