Mark McCown: A tenant wants his security deposit back – The Tribune

Dear Lawyer Mark: I was evicted from the apartment I was renting because I was only a month behind on my rent. I left the apartment after he put the notice on my door, but my landlord won’t return my deposit.

I keep calling about it, but he doesn’t answer my calls or call me back. Can he do that? – Upset Up

Dear Upset: The first thing you need to do is read your rental agreement. Didn’t you say how much you paid for your deposit, or if the agreement says it’s “last month’s rent” or an actual “security deposit”? These terms will determine what a tenant is entitled to at the end of a lease. Ohio law governs landlord and tenant relationships and outlines security deposit procedures in RC §5321.16.

If the agreement says you advanced “last month’s rent,” the amount is deemed to be applied to the month you didn’t pay. If it was a “security deposit” of an amount equal to or less than the rent due, the amount can again be used to pay the overdue rent, but the landlord must notify you in writing. If it is a “security deposit” for more than the rent due, the landlord must also refund you the difference or explain in writing why they are keeping the balance.

A landlord cannot withhold a security deposit without explanation.

By law, the landlord is required to provide the tenant with an identified and itemized written list of any holdback from the security deposit within 30 days of termination of the rental agreement and must mail it to the tenant’s new address. .

This means that the tenant must provide the landlord with a forwarding address so that the landlord can send this document.

Ultimately, when a landlord fails to properly provide tenants with the itemized list of damages, tenants can recover the money they are entitled to from the deposit, plus reasonable attorneys’ fees.

As a penalty, the court will also award the tenants an additional amount equal to the amount illegally detained. In other words, the landlord should pay the tenant double the amount owed to them, plus the tenant’s attorney fees.

In certain circumstances, landlords may also be required to pay interest annually to tenants who have deposited security deposits with them for more than six months.

Thought of the week: “Come live in my heart and don’t pay rent. »Samuel Lover.

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions he has received. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or email him at [email protected] The right to condense and/or edit any questions is reserved.

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