Taking Landlord To Small Claims Court For Security Deposit

Landlord Protection Taking Landlord To Small Claims Court For Security Deposit

How to Take a Landlord to Small Claims Court for a Security Deposit

As a renter, you have rights. Most tenants don’t really understand these rights. And if they do, they don’t often exercise their renters’ rights. But DoNotPay can help. We can help you handle all sorts of tenant issues, from unfinished repairs, to security deposits, to evictions, and how to break a lease.

Today, DoNotPay is here to explain how to  

We’ll cover three main ideas:

  1. What a security deposit is, and what it’s for
  2. An introduction to small claims court
  3. And how DoNotPay can help

Right now, you just want that security deposit back. Let’s get started.

What is a Security Deposit?

Your landlord has the right to ask for a security deposit. That deposit exists to repair damage to the rental unit beyond “normal wear and tear.” It cannot be used to pay for missing rent, it cannot be used for expected wear and tear.

Depending on the property, most security deposits range from about $400 to $1,500.

Your landlord cannot keep those funds as punishment because you’re leaving, or because you broke a lease. They cannot threaten to keep a deposit just because you’re having an argument with them.

The table below illustrates what a security deposit is, and is not, used for.

A security deposit can be used forUnusual, unexpected damage caused by the tenant, such as:

  • Wear and tear beyond what’s “normal”
  • Ripped up or destroyed carpets
  • Broken windows that weren’t reported to the landlord
  • Deep damage to hardwood floors
  • Unreported, damaged appliances that belong to the property
A security deposit cannot be used for
  • Most normal wear and tear
  • Pest control
  • A new carpet, paint, or flooring if you’ve lived there for a few years
  • Missing rent
  • Fees for late rent
  • Damage to the unit caused by weather or falling tree limbs
  • Financial punishment because you’re leaving the unit

If you did significant damage to the rental, for instance, if your dog chewed up all the wood trim around the doorways, your landlord can keep the deposit to make those repairs.

But other costs, like a new carpet, or a coat of paint, are considered the costs of doing business. They are not covered by your deposit. And if your landlord is withholding your deposit, you should report them, and then sue them.

Now, let’s talk about small claims court.

You Can Take a Your Landlord to Small Claims Court for a Missing Security Deposit

Small claims court exists for civil disputes like this. Most counties will only handle a case up to $5,000 value. You won’t need a lawyer, but it might cost a few bucks to file the papers.

Gather Your Documents for Small Claims Court

As the petitioner — the person doing the suing — it’s your responsibility to prove that the landlord is unfairly withholding your deposit. If you don’t have evidence, your case will be thrown out. So gather these papers:

  • A copy of your lease or other rental agreement
  • Proof of payment of the security deposit (a canceled check or bank statement works)
  • Photos that prove you didn’t do any damage
  • Any communication that proves you’ve asked for your deposit back

Your landlord might:

  • Fight you in court
  • Or pay your deposit back right away

The first problem most people come up against is poor record-keeping. You need evidence to win in small claims court. The second issue is anxiety or unease. Court is scary for almost anyone. But DoNotPay can help!

Use DoNotPay to Stand Up for Your Rights and Get Your Deposit Back

DoNotPay is here to guide you through it and file your disputes on your behalf. Our Landlord Protection product can help you:

  1. Get back your security deposits
  2. Learn about your state's eviction laws and what protections apply in your case
  3. Resolve disputes regarding repairs with your landlord
  4. Resolve disputes with roommates by filing demand letters or going through small claims court
  5. Break your lease early

Use DoNotPay to Break a Lease

If you want to break a lease, but don't know where to start, DoNotPay has you covered in 4 easy steps:

  1. Search for and open the Landlord Protection product on DoNotPay.


  2. Select which issue applies to you.


  3. Answer a simple set of questions so our chatbot can collect the necessary information to create your demand letter.


  4. Choose whether you want DoNotPay to send the demand letter to your landlord or roommate on your behalf. If you already tried sending a demand letter and it didn't work, we can help you start the small claims court process.


And that's it! You should hear back from your landlord directly once your demands are sent.

We also offer a Sue Anyone product, which walks you through the steps to winning a case in small claims court with ease.

Check out some DoNotPay services that will help you right now:

DoNotPay makes it easy to Try it now!

Want your issue solved now?