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Re: Landlord Lawsuit

Posted by Mo on December 29, 1999 at 12:01:55:

In Reply to: Landlord Lawsuit posted by Edward on December 28, 1999 at 14:08:26:

: Just recently (10/31/99) we moved out of our rented house into a much
: nicer one in the suburbs. After several contacts with our landlord,
: he said that he would keep our security deposit to use as cleanup
: expenses... this was fine with us, and we offered to give our new
: number and address so he could contact us if there were any problems.
: He declined this option a number of times.

: On 12/10/99, I received a civil complaint from my now ex-landlord. It
: states the following:
: Carpet replacement - $1188.48
: Trash Removal - $200.00
: Supplies - $473.67
: Water Bill - $367.88
: Labor Expenses - $550.00

: All of this adds up to $2740.03, NOT INCLUDING the security deposit he kept.

: Now I have several questions that if can be answered would be of tremendous
: help. First of all, the civil complaint was filed about 40 days after we
: moved out, is there any limit as to when a complaint can be filed? Also, the
: carpet removal was caused by part of the ceiling collapsing because of a water
: leak from the 2nd level -- something that the landlord was notified about
: but never fixed. Is this disputable? And finally, when we moved in we signed
: a one-year lease. This lease was never renewed, and we lived there for 2 more
: years afterwards. Are there any stipulations that come with this?

: I thank anyone for their help!

Before you moved you needed to send the landlord
in writing your new address and phone number. Of course he declined when you
offered. Now he can say to withheld the information so he couldn't contact
you and filled the civil complaint. Did you take any pictures of the house
prior to moving to show the condition you left it in? Did the landlord do a
walk through with a check out for damages signed by the two of you before
you handed over the keys? Check out the below info on security deposits in PA.
Since you didn't follow the law and notify him of your address, he'll say he
couldn't contact you within the 30 days that he has. But his charges are
probably bogus, so you may have a case. I'd look for a lawyer.

Security Deposits in PA:
To get the security deposit returned, the tenant must give the landlord,
or his/her agent, a forwarding address in writing at or before the time
the tenant actually moves out. The landlord must then, within thirty
(30) days from the date the tenant moves out, 1) return the security deposit
or 2) send the tenant a list of damages the tenant caused in the apartment,
the cost of the repairs, plus any extra money left over from the security
deposit. If the landlord does not return the security deposit or does not
provide the written list of damages within thirty (30) days, the tenant can
sue the landlord for double the security deposit by going to a District
Justice's office and filing a complaint against the landlord.

After the second anniversary of the lease the tenant is entitled to receive
on a yearly basis interest on all funds over $100 deposited by the landlord
in an interest-bearing account. The landlord is entitled to receive as
administrative expenses a sum equivalent to one per cent annum upon the
security deposit.

The law (68 P.S. section 250.512) states that any landlord who fails to
provide a written list within thirty (30) days shall give up all rights
to keep any part or the money held as a security deposit. The tenant can
choose one of two remedies. First, the tenant can sue to recover the amount
of the security deposit. The landlord cannot raise any defense or counterclaim
for damages to the property. For example, the tenant can sue for the return
of a $100.00 security deposit. The landlord cannot counterclaim for the cost
of any damages left by the tenant.

The second remedy the tenant has is to sue for double the amount of the
security deposit If the tenant chooses this remedy, the landlord may
counterclaim for damages to the property, up to the amount of the security

For example. the security deposit is $100.00. The tenant sues for $100.00
times two which equals $200.00 The landlord proves that the tenant left a
broken window that cost $40.00 to repair. The tenant may recover $100 00
times two, which equals $200.00 minus $40.00, for a total of $160.00

If the tenant needs to go to court to get back the security deposit,
the tenant should go to the District Justice of the Peace and swear out
a complaint. A hearing date will be set and at the hearing the tenant
should be prepared to prove that the rent was paid (by showing receipts) and
that the keys and the written forwarding address were given to the landlord
when the tenant moved out.

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