ex Tennant says i owe him security Deposit back - Posted by Dale-Ohio

Posted by Dale-Ohio on April 28, 2006 at 14:37:33:

No, i never sent him the list. I thought since he was month to moanth and the place was trashed. He would not be asking for it back. So i am now sending him the list. thanks

ex Tennant says i owe him security Deposit back - Posted by Dale-Ohio

Posted by Dale-Ohio on April 28, 2006 at 13:21:15:

I bought a Building and the tennant came along with it. He has been in there for 7 years. I have only owned it for 2 years. He was going on a month to month bases for rent when i took over. So we kept it month to Month. After he left the place was trashed. He never cleaned the whole time he spent there. Now he lives in California and he sent a letter saying he is charging me interest and the amount of the security deposit cause i never sent it to him. he says he is going to take me to court if i dont send him $1100.00. i am in Ohio. Any suggestions?

Ugly, but maybe profitable - Posted by Big Bob

Posted by Big Bob on April 29, 2006 at 18:30:43:

Back in leaner times when I rented, I caught a couple of dilatory landlords when they failed to know and comply with the statutes on this matter of returning the T’s deposits or otherwise accounting for it.

That lesson taught me that any LL in the USA needs to read and know his LL/T laws and then absolutely comply exactly as the law requires.

Our state law requires a letter/notice to the T within a certain time after T leaves or vacates, and that notice must spell out exactly what I, the LL, am withholding, my rights to do so, etc., etc…and you can bet that I now, as the LL, make darned sure I do so,no matter how badly the T may have treated me.

A church on whose property committee I serve, recently had to vacate 3 separate rentals we own, and I made sure those T’s got the notice exactly as proscribed by law. Didn’t want the church to get hit for its failure to comply.

In your case I’d bet on that T NOT coming back to OH or sending a lawyer a fee to sue you, so I think you’ve escaped the lash this time.

Tenant says security deposit back - Posted by Joe Kaiser

Posted by Joe Kaiser on April 29, 2006 at 15:56:48:

Tenants understand landlord/tenant laws better than some landlords
do, and they eat them alive (like treble damages . . . imagine now
having to return 3 times the $1,100)

If you’ve failed to do what is required by statute, you automatically
lose, regardless of the facts (or the damages).

Sending a letter now may document your failure and may cause more
harm than good.

Think it through and understand where you screwed up and how to
mitigate this before doing anything.


Re: ex Tennant says i owe - Posted by The Frisco Kid

Posted by The Frisco Kid on April 29, 2006 at 12:35:46:


I agree with Julio on this one, for the amount of money at stake he would use small claims court to get a judgement, he would need to appear, and he can’t add on the cost of his trip and housing to the suit, so until he files so what? And he would still need to win. Plus all you would need to pay is close to what he is demanding already, so you have little to lose by sending him a statement and letter to the effect his deposit didn’t cover the damage completely and he owes you x dollars (of course I’m assuming that is the case or you would have refunded him the difference). Of course, I’m not familiar with the court and law in your area.

Re: ex Tennant says - Posted by Julio

Posted by Julio on April 28, 2006 at 23:54:41:

Dale! Your guy needs to go back to your county to file. (I do not think, he is going to do it.) Oaktown_Julio.

Re: ex Tennant says i owe him - Posted by Julio

Posted by Julio on April 28, 2006 at 23:43:16:

Hello ! My input is, he has to go back to Your local to file in court. (Not likely). Oaktown_Julio.

Re: security Deposit back - Posted by Frank Chin

Posted by Frank Chin on April 28, 2006 at 16:43:06:


Several issues:

  • There should’ve been an estoppel letter issued before closing signed by the tenant indicating the terms of the lease, or non-lease, deposits collected if any, and the prior owner should’ve settled with you at closing. If not, the prior owner owes you the money. If settled, you got the security, and should’ve known about it.

  • IF there is security, others mentioned laws that apply where you must document damages, notify accordingly, and consequently deduct.

  • Or you can tough it out and wait for him to sue you. I had a customer serve us with a subpeona for small claims, I guess to scare us, and we figured we’ll live with a default judgment and pay him. Turned out he never went to court either.

Frank Chin

Re: ex Tennant says i owe him security… - Posted by Brandon

Posted by Brandon on April 28, 2006 at 14:20:23:

First, I’ll address the interest issues. I’m not sure about the law in OH, but most states do require that you notify the tenant of the name of the bank his/her security deposit is held in. And, that they are entitled to the interest that accrues on it. But, there are some caveats. In PA, where I am, you aren’t required to return any interest if there tenancy is less than 3 years (maybe 2, it’s been a while since I checked). But, it’s only require by law that you give what a “reasonable savings account” would earn, i.e., about 1%. So, in most cases this is insignificant. Either way, the prior owner would have had to give you this at closing when you bought the place 2 years ago.

Now, the other issue. Whether the tenant was Month to Month or yearly is irrelevant. But, the lease should clearly state what the requirements are for returning or any deductions of the security deposit. For example, my leases state that I will inspect the property once the tenant leaves. Then within 30 days I will send his deposit back. If it is not the full deposit (which is usually the case), I am require to provide a list of deductions as to why they are not receiving their full deposit back. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something like “Hole in Kitchen Wall—$50 for materials and labor,” etc.

The bad news is that, in my opinion, the courts may put the burden of proof on you in this case. If you have pictures documenting the state of the property upon his departure you may be in luck. But, since you didn’t inform him in a timely fashion that you weren’t returning his deposit, you are at fault.

If it hasn’t been too long since he left, and the apartment is still vacant, get in there and take some pictures. Then make up a list documenting the costs involved for the cleaning, etc.

Hope this helps.

security Deposit back - Posted by Mary-Oh

Posted by Mary-Oh on April 28, 2006 at 14:19:26:

Dale, after he vacated, did you send him a security deposit disposition letter outlining all the charges taken out of his deposit? That is required to be sent within 30days after vacating in Ohio. Also, do you have anything the documents the condition of the unit when you took over or any other inspections which will help support your charges? That would be very helpful to you if you do. Anyway, it sounds like from your post that he’s going on the 30 day thing. If you sent him one then tell him to go sit and spin awhile. Hope this helps. Mary

Re: Ugly, but maybe profitable - Posted by David (Los Angeles)

Posted by David (Los Angeles) on April 29, 2006 at 20:01:59:

I don’t think I’d count on the tenant not coming back to OH to sue. There was a reason he was in Ohio – maybe family, maybe not, but he could still have friends there, and he could authorize someone to act as his representative in court. I don’t know the Ohio laws, but in CA, you aren’t allowed to have your attorney represent you in small claims court. If the property manager can appear in court in lieu of the landlord, (and that happens here all the time) there’s probably nothing to prevent the tenant’s brother-in-law from appearing in court in lieu of the tenant. All he’d probably need is a piece of paper saying he’s authorized to represent the tenant.

I’d figure out the least costly way to make the problem go away without gambling on uncertainties that may put you in a worse situation.