Security Deposit Disputes
Sept. 15, 2013
The Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut, an agency that assists low-income clients in dealing with landlord disputes, commented that in recent years the agency is taking many more calls than they have in the past from tenants claiming their landlords won’t return their security deposits.
Those tenants who cannot collect their security deposit once they have moved, can seek help through the Connecticut Department of Banking (DOB). The DOB has an investigator to work with tenants and landlords to settle disputes over security deposits. According to the commissioner of the DOB, in the past five years his office has collected nearly $500,000 on the behalf of renters. The DOB website contains important steps to assist both renters and landlords on how to avoid disputes.
One important step for a renter to take is that of keeping all proof of on time rent and deposit payments. These receipts of payment need to be kept for three years to ensure that all matters are settled.
Another very important step to take is that of taking photos of the property before you move in and making a list of all problems discovered at the rental property. Again, when you move out, take photos once more as proof that you did not damage the rental property.
The security deposit is the renters’ money, not the landlords. Landlords are required by law in the state of Connecticut to place the deposit in an escrow account that earns interest. Renters can ask to see proof that the escrow account exists.
When you vacate your property, immediately send your landlord a letter requesting your security deposit be returned. Your landlord has thirty days to either return the money or list the damages they believe was caused by the tenant. If a landlord is found in violation of the law, he could be forced to pay double the amount of the deposit.
What happens if a landlord does refuse to pay the deposit? A tenant will then need to take their case to housing or small claims court, a process that can take several months.
When you have any type of real estate problem, speak with an experienced real estate attorney. An attorney well versed in Connecticut real estate law has the experience and skills to represent both sellers, buyers, lenders and borrowers in matters pertaining to the purchase, sale, and leasing of commercial and residential real estate, and can assist you in resolving your real estate issues.