Friday, March 26, 2010

Landlord-Tenant security deposit disputes; 68 P.S. 250.512; Thirty day time limit;

I previously summarized the factors that cause landlords to get into needless trouble in security deposit disputes. One such factor is deception by the tenant. The basic rule is that a landlord must either (1) provide a written list of damages or (2) return the security deposit to the tenant within thirty (30) days of the tenant leaving the property.

Landlords sometimes get tripped up when tenants tell the landlord to take forty-five (45) days (instead of the statutory thirty (30)). Tenants do this when they know that there is substantial property damage and that the landlord will not voluntarily return the deposit.

Just because the tenant tells the landlord that 45 days is acceptable does not mean that the courts will find it acceptable also. Tenants often know the law better than landlords. Tenants will try to trick the landlord into waiting beyond the required thirty day period so that the tenant can force the return of the security deposit and avoid having to pay for the property damage. Courts will be unsympathetic to the landlord even when the landlord's delay results from the tenant's unsolicited inducement to take more time.

Remember, it does not matter what the tenant says. Provide your written list of damages within thirty (30) days no matter what.

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