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jab1129

Utah - Security Deposit Dispute

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I recently moved from an apartment with a $1,000 security deposit. I had not received the balance of my deposit or an itemized statement from the landlord at the 30 day mark, so I sent a letter requesting that either the deposit or the statement be sent.

 

Upon receipt of my letter, the landlord sent me a bill for overages in excess of the security deposit by a couple hundred dollars. My first question is: is this legal? Can they send a bill AFTER the 30 days? 

 

Among the items on the list is more than $500 for cleaning the apartment for services such as washing walls. Even at $30/hour that would be more than 16 hours of cleaning. I have photographs that show the apt. was left clean and would certainly not require the amount of cleaning that would cost $500.

 

My ultimate question is: Should I pursue this in small claims court? Even though I have moved out of state and would need to fly back to defend myself.

 

 

 

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The landlord appears to be in violation of the Utah security deposit statute (assuming you provided your new address as required by the statute).

 

http://law.justia.com/codes/utah/2012/title-57/article-17/

 

Unfortunately, Utah doesn't have double or triple damages like other states so you'll have to decide for yourself whether it's worth your while to travel back to Utah for court dates.

 

You don't get your travel costs or lost earnings if you have to take off from work.

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Thanks for the reply.

 

Another question: If the landlord sent a statement, but it does not give any explanation for the reason they are withholding the amount (it just says "wash walls, sink, indoor windows and blinds with costs assigned to each), should I accept this statement?

 

This is what the Utah code says:

 

(2) No later than 30 days after the day on which a renter vacates and returns possession of a rental property to the owner or the owner's agent, the owner or the owner's agent shall deliver to the renter at the renter's last known address:

 

[...]

 

© if the owner or the owner's agent made any deductions from the deposit or prepaid rent, a written notice that itemizes and explains the reason for each deduction.

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So the statement just says what was done and how much each item cost but doesn't give the "reason" for the deductions.

 

I'd say that not in compliance.

 

I was poking around trying to find case law on that. Didn't find anything but came across some 2014 changes in the statute:

 

http://le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE57/htm/57_17_000300.htm

 

Which now apparently allows for attorney fees which weren't previously included in the statute:

 

http://le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE57/htm/57_17_000500.htm

 

Might be worth checking with an attorney in Utah.

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Yes, you are correct. The statement does not give any reason or explanation for the deductions—it just shows that deductions have been taken. I've spoken to a lawyer and placed calls to a couple others. No one seems interested in fighting for a "measly" $1,000. But this is a big deal to us—on principle alone.

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If you aren't willing to sue him you can probably kiss the money goodbye.

 

You could try sending him a final demand along with copies of the statutes and a completed (but not filed) small claims complaint form with a deadline date to pay.

 

Trouble is, if you bluff and don't file when the deadline date passes, you lose and he laughs.

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It has just come to our knowledge that they have falsified the statement they sent to us, stating that they replaced a sink that we now have photographic evidence that they did not replace. I believe this makes our case open and shut!

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It has just come to our knowledge that they have falsified the statement they sent to us, stating that they replaced a sink that we now have photographic evidence that they did not replace. I believe this makes our case open and shut!

 

I wouldn't be too sure of that. Maybe they haven't replaced it yet but if they had damage to it that damage has a compensable value.

 

I think that you might do better to argue the noncompliance with the statute and not the condition of individual items unless you can show that you didn't damage the items.

 

What counts is whether or not you did the damage, not whether or not they repaired or replaced it.

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They sent us an official statement charging us for instillation of a new sink, purchase of a new sink, and disposal of the old sink. We also have a phone conversation where the property manager says she hired a plumber and emphatically states that they replaced the sink, and we KNOW they didn't do any of this.

 

I fully understand that IF we damaged the sink, we might be responsible for the depreciated value of the sink, but there has to be something we can do since they out right LIED in their statement of charges and are acting in bad faith.

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