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What’s lawful and unlawful when getting a security deposit back?

Few things grab our attention and make us research our legal rights as when it negatively impacts the amount in our bank account. Withheld money from a landlord can significantly throw off your ability to secure your next home or pay other vital expenses. Holding a person or a business legally accountable starts by knowing your rights as a tenant.

Unfortunately, landlords have been guilty of withholding security deposits many times in the past. What landlords fail to understand or perhaps genuinely care about is how detrimental this may be to your wellbeing and stability in life. Not getting an amount that you are expecting or deserving of can make a difficult circumstance even worse.

Pennsylvania tenant rights

To fight unlawful withholdings, you need to know your Pennsylvania tenant rights. The strongest case you have is complying with the rights and responsibilities of your lease while bringing into accountability the wrongdoings of your landlord. In addition, you should always keep photos, receipts and records of your rental property and anything associated with the release of your full deposit amount. Here are some of the lawful and unlawful reasons landlords withhold security deposits.

Lawful reasons to withhold security deposits

A Pennsylvania landlord is granted a 30-day window to return partial or full security deposit amounts to the tenant. Oftentimes, this comes in the form of a check with a description of what any withheld amounts are being used to cover. Lawful withholdings of a security deposit may go towards:

  • Outstanding rent balance owed
  • Repairing damage to the property
  • Breaking contract by the tenant that includes financial obligations

Unlawful withholdings

Landlords may attempt to justify their reasons for withholding a security deposit based on false statements about the condition of the apartment or breaches in contract. It is unlawful for landlords to deny your security deposit when it does not fall into the categories above. As a tenant, it is essential to keep good records and stay knowledgeable about your rights. The lack of sufficient evidence for your defense can cost you legal fees and an unfair ruling by the judge.

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Philadelphia, PA 19107

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