By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you’re moving out of your apartment, when can the landlord legally keep your security deposit or take a deduction against it?
The landlord of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Ohio University has kept the security deposit and is suing to evict tenants for keeping a dog; causing extensive damage to the house; having alcohol “and/or other controlled substances” on the premises; allowing trash to pile up; and lighting fires in the basement. In other words, being a fraternity.
Even if you‘ve already decided that fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son, you may still have landlord problems. In general, an apartment must be returned in the condition you found it when your lease commenced. Depending on state law, landlords may generally charge you for the cost of cleaning or repairs to return the apartment to that condition.
A landlord can’t charge you for normal wear and tear – changes that are naturally recurring regardless of how well you took care of the place, like minor nicks in the paint on the wall. But the cost of major repairs resulting from damage you caused may be deducted.
Next time, take pictures of the premises before you move in (of the apartment, not what goes on there) so there’s no dispute when you move out.