Dear Consumer Ed:

I moved out of an apartment over a month ago and have not gotten my security deposit back. I have had many failed attempts by e-mail and phone to discuss this issue. There is a statement in my lease that says the landlord has 3 banking days to provide me with a Move-Out Inspection report and 30 days to return my security deposit. Since it has been more than 30 days, are they required to pay a fee? How do I address this issue?

Consumer Ed says: 

A landlord is required to return the full security deposit within one month after a tenant terminates his lease.  There are, however, several legitimate reasons why your landlord might have retained your deposit:

•    your apartment was damaged beyond ordinary wear and tear;
•    nonpayment of rent;
•    accrual of fees for late rent payments;
•    abandonment of the apartment;
•    nonpayment of utility charges;
•    nonpayment for repair work or cleaning you might have contracted for with third parties;
•    unpaid pet fees;

Your landlord is required to provide you with a written statement listing the exact reasons for retaining your deposit.  If there is no reason for your landlord to have kept your deposit, then he should have promptly returned it to you, provided he has your new address.  If you think your landlord retained your deposit without a valid reason or failed to mail you a written explanation of why he kept your deposit, you may want to talk with a lawyer about what legal claims you may be able to pursue.

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