Here Is The Exact Letter I Used To Get Back A Security Deposit In Full From A Hostile Apartment Building

By   |  August 9, 2014

Landlords are assh*les. At least, that’s how it seems, much of the time.

With booming populations, sprawling cityscapes, and economic hardships the world over, real estate is becoming more expensive, driving more and more tenants into rental properties where they are at the complete behest of a landlord for almost everything – from setting up an internet connection to getting hot water.

The American Era Of ‘Fine Print’

One can hardly blame landlords for being overwhelmed with the complexity of the times. Ultimately, however, its their job to treat every tenant with the respect they deserve, regardless of how many bad experiences they have had in the past.

The United States has stronger tenant rights laws than nearly any other country in the world. On paper, this is a great thing, as renters are offered protection from unreasonable rent increases, for example, or from being evicted for certain reasons.

In practice, however, the US has become a society of “fine print” and legalistic jockeying, where landlords and apartment managers leverage illegally-formed contracts and the ignorance of their tenants to manipulate rules and situations to their advantage. (Unlike many other countries, where things like reasonability, compromise, and verbal agreements are still the most common way to do business.)

Getting Back Your Security Deposit

9 out of 10 lawsuits in the world are now filed in the United States, which is also home to over 80% of the world’s lawyers. Sadly, the US has become a society that’s absolutely obsessed with legal action, to the point that negotiations won’t even begin until one or the other party – i.e. consumer or company – turns to the court system.

Now, if you really want to take legal action, its fairly easy in most US states via the small claims court system, generally used for financial claims less than $5,000. It’s usually easier, however, to simply signal to your apartment manager that you are willing to take the next step – a lawsuit – if you really have to. This is done by writing a letter.

Use a strong yet professional tone, and deliver your letter via Certified Mail. Also, make sure you don’t cash whatever incomplete “check” they might initially send you.

Note: Even if your apartment contract states that you are willing to give up all or part of your security deposit for certain things like “cleaning” at time of move-out, this is likely an illegal contract and sending a letter is still an appropriate move in many cases.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, and this article is for entertainment purposes only. Please research the tenant laws for your given jurisdiction, or speak to a local attorney, before ever taking legal action or writing a letter to your landlord.

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One Comment on “Here Is The Exact Letter I Used To Get Back A Security Deposit In Full From A Hostile Apartment Building”  (RSS)

  1. I wrote a blog a couple of years ago to help college students deal with living off campus. In it I gave a few tips so they wouldn’t get ripped off. Here’s a few suggestions:

    1) Always have a clearly written contract with a landlord. Never go on anything verbal, ever. Read it all before signing. Have questions? Ask, then verify with your local agency which monitors the rental industry (usually Housing Authority).

    2) Know renter rights. In California, we have a printed “Tenants Rights” booklet the Housing Authority prints out, usually yearly, which is free. Read that before renting any place.

    3) Never be the only name on the rental contract if you have roommates. If your name is on the contract and a party animal roommate trashes the place, the name on the contract is 100% responsible for all damages. Everyone living there signs the rental agreement and should put up equal money for the deposit and rent.

    4) Always take detailed pictures before you move in and right after you move (dated). This will help if you have to take the landlord to court. I know of a property manager who pockets deposits by trumping up charges for “cleaning and repairs” that aren’t needed. Those who fought her in court won.

    Basically, protect yourself, it could cost you a lot of money if you don’t know your rights…or maintain the property.

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