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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Security Deposit/ Breaking a Lease

    What is the name of your state? Louisiana

    For work related issues, I recently had to move from Louisiana to South Carolina, which meant I had to break my lease in Louisiana. I contacted my landlord and gave him a 2 month notice, with an exact move-out date, and an explaination of why I had to break the lease early. He told me, no problem, and seemed very understanding. When I dropped the keys off before leaving Louisiana, I asked about the security deposit ($950), and he asked for an address for where to send it. Being polite I allowed 30 days from the time I left Louisiana before contacting him because I had not received my deposit. Now he is telling me that because of breaking the lease he is unsure if I will get my deposit back and he needs to think about it. Now it has been over 2 weeks since my last contact with him as he is not returning any of my phone calls, although I make it a point to call both his work number and the cell number almost every day.

    I have re-read my lease at least a dozen times and no where on there does it say that if the lease is broken will I not be entitled to my deposit. It simply asks for a 30-day notice if lease must be terminated early. Well clearly I gave him 2 months. I was never late on my rent, and caused no damage to the property. I am just curious, what to do next? I mean clearly calling him isn't getting a response, and I did break the lease, so is it his right to not give me the deposit because of the early termination?

    Any help, thoughts, suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.What is the name of your state?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    southern OH
    I'm sorry, but moving for a job does not excuse you from your lease. While your LL seemed very understanding of it, he never told you he would excuse you from your legal obligations. You broke your lease. You are obligated to pay the rent and utilties (if your lease said you were responsible for them) until the unit is re-rented. Additionally, you owe for any advertising costs or other charges the LL incurs by way of you breaking your lease. The deposit is held to pay for any damages found in the unit after you move out.

    Now he does owe you an itemized statement for these charges that were deducted from your deposit within a month after you vacate. But I really doubt you're entitled to anything back. Send him a certified letter return receipt requested asking for this statement within a reasonable time. If he doesn't respond, you could try to sue him in small claims court. You may have a chance since he didn't send the statement to you. Or the court might find that his charges are legit and you would get nothing. In a few LL friendly areas, they allow a LL the common sense defense (you knew you wouldn't be getting it back when you broke your lease). Only your courts could decide this.

    BTW, most leases and state laws say that your move out notice must be in writing, did you do this? Or did you just tell him? And, many leases have a lease break fee where you owe a certain amount of money as a penalty if you break the lease and move out early. Usually it is 1 to 2 months of rent. Also, your state law is unclear whether he has a duty to try to re-rent the unit while you are still under lease. Most state laws obligate the LL to mitigate his loss (and thus the damages/charges you owe him). This is not written into your state law. I don't know case law from there as to whether the courts have found he has to do this or not. If not, you might owe him the rest of your lease. If he has a duty, you owe him until he rents it again.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    South Cackalacky
    Info from the web:
    Rental deposits

    The most frequent complaint tenants have against landlords is the loss of their deposit. Many landlords found from experience that they could keep the tenant's deposit and that there wasn't much that the tenant could do about it. It simply wasn't worthwhile trying to sue to recover a few hundred dollars. The legal expenses alone generally exceeded the amount of the deposit. In 1972, the Legislature recognized this problem and passed several laws controlling the return of tenant deposits. But, the tenant needs to be familiar with these laws and the procedures that they require.

    A lessor who holds a deposit from a tenant for the faithful performance of the lease is required to return the deposit within one month after the termination of the lease. However, the lessor can retain all or any part of the deposit that is necessary to remedy a default by the tenant or to repair unreasonable wear to the leased premises. As long as the tenant has not abandoned the premises prior to the termination of the lease, the landlord is required to give the tenant an itemized statement showing why the deposit or any part of it was withheld. If the deposit is not returned and no written statement is given to the tenant, the tenant can demand the return of his deposit in writing. If the lessor still does not make a refund or accounting within thirty days from the written demand, the lessor's failure to refund will be considered willful, and the tenant will be entitled to the greater of his actual damages or two hundred dollars. The court can also order the landlord to pay the tenant for his attorney's fees and court costs. An award of attorney's fees can often be more than the deposit and damages combined and can be the real incentive for the landlord to make a prompt refund once the tenant makes it clear that he is aware of the deposit laws.

    If you find it necessary to make a written demand for your deposit back, make sure you can prove that you gave the notice and when the notice was given. Bring a witness with you if you hand-deliver the notice, or send the notice by certified mail. Your notice only has to say that you gave a deposit and expect a refund within thirty days, or you will take further legal action. If the lessor makes a reasonable accounting of why your deposit was withheld, you would not be entitled to damages and attorney's fees. You could still recover the portion of the deposit that you can prove was unreasonably withheld.

    My new signature:
    Originally Posted by arazi
    I'll take you on one-to-one in a volcabulary test anywhere, anyplace, anytime.
  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Thank you for the response. All advertising costs I have already covered and the place was rented, I covered all cleaning costs before I left upfront, and all bills were finalized before my move and paid for and transferred back into the landlords name (all paid by me, as I felt it should, no disspute there). As for re-renting, well the place is re-rented, and the new tenants moved in the day after I moved out, which was May 29, 2007. I am still in contact with the new tenants as they are mutual friends from the area.

    I guess that I should have requested an itemized statement for these things that I did before leaving, but I did not. And yes, I called my landlord to tell him about the move, and he asked me to send it to him in writing as well. I guess my confusion comes from the fact that he told me to my face, that there was no problem with breaking the lease and that as long as I gave him a new address my security deposit would be sent to me since the house was already rented and he would not be at a loss. I took his word though because he was a really nice guy the whole time I was there, and while I understand completely if he kept my deposit because of the fact I broke my lease, I did specifically ask about the deposit and he assured me that I would receive it back minus a cleaning fee (which I had already paid for before leaving, but I was still understanding of that).

    I know oral commitments do not mean anything, but it is his obligation to send me an itemized statement after I have moved out, which it has now been well over the 30 day period, (May 29- July 24), and my first contact with him about the issue was on June 30.

    I will try contacting him in writing since he is now not returning my phone calls. And you must understand for those reading, I am not calling him and being upset about anything, it is just at this point I just want to know whether it is a lost cause and I should just call this whole situation a "learning experience."

    Last edited by cdc2007; 07-24-2007 at 01:38 PM.
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