10 Reasons Landlords Keep Deposits Unfairly

By Tenant

It seems its a constant battle every time you move out to get your deposit refunded.  The RPA complaint center handles thousands of deposit related complaints yearly.  There are common trends within complaints filed by tenants that are not getting their cleaning, security or rental deposits refunded.  In this post we are going to show you the most common practices used by landlord to keep deposits.

To safeguard your deposit; here are some things to look out for when you move:

Top 10 Reasons Landlords Keep Tenants Deposits:

1) Apartment Not Deep Cleaned

2) Carpet Replacement Cost (Hard to justify in most cases)

3) Nail Holes

4) Pet Oder/ Dander

5) Smoke Smell (Can hit you for entire painting cost)

6) Food Smell

7) Normal Wear and Tear (This is not allowed; but commonly done)

8) Kitchen: Drip Pans, Behind Fridge

9) Light Bulbs (Yes, you can get hit with ridiculous install fees)

10) Improper Check out (Commonly used; but not normally allowed)

How to Get the Most Refund Possible?
The biggest thing you can do for yourself is to make the unit ready to rent.  That means that the unit has been cleaned to the point that another tenant would gladly move in as is.  The more work you require your landlord to do the more you will get hit on your deposit.  Often, you might even find yourself getting a bill for damages.  Check for common hidden areas such as behind refrigerators, stove drip pans, ceiling fan blades, window seals, cabinets.  A quick light cleaning will usually land you with a hefty cost to your deposit.

How to Fight to Get Your Deposit Back?
If you feel your landlord has unfairly kept your deposit you can file a complaint with through the Rental Protection Agency.  Once a complaint is filed you will receive a case number that can be used to check the status of your complaint.  The RPA will then contact your landlord to dispute the charges to your deposit as per your complaint filing.



Edited on: Friday, October 11th, 2013 4:45 am

8 Responses to “10 Reasons Landlords Keep Deposits Unfairly”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


October 11th, 2013 5:00 am

I lived at Sartoga Springs Apartment Villa and they love charging for several of the items listed above. My favorite was the $25 charge per light bulb install. I think property managers find creative ways to keep deposits.


October 12th, 2013 7:20 am

I wonder if you can still file a complaint about a deposit refund after a few months? I just moved a few months ago and got a bill for $200. That was $200 above and beyond my $500 deposit he kept. It was completely bogus the charges he drummed up.


October 13th, 2013 10:00 am

Yes! You can file a complaint even if its been a year or more. Even if you don’t get your money back its good to file an RPA complaint so that other tenants will know not to rent from the landlord. … you’ll probably get your deposit immediately refunded after the landlord gets the notice from the RPA. I’ve filed a complaint before assuming my landlord would not respond. He did. I got a refund a couple of weeks later.


October 14th, 2013 12:20 pm

Wow! I had no idea you could file a deposit dispute with the RPA. What a cool way to turn the tables on the landlord.


October 15th, 2013 2:40 pm

I’m surprised paint didn’t make the list. I seem to always get dinged for re-painting.


October 16th, 2013 5:00 pm

I also suggest taking pictures before and after if you can. It can help document pre-existing problems that often get passed on. I bet most landlords intentionally charge for certain items that they never fix just to make an extra buck. How many times has the landlord charged someone for the same stain on a carpet that was caused by a tenant several times previous..


October 17th, 2013 7:20 pm

True! Taking pics is best practice. Plus if you plan to file a complaint you can upload those images to the complaint. Its hard to dispute an image.


October 18th, 2013 9:40 pm

I wish landlords knew the difference between normal wear and tear and “damages.” Landlords are always trying to get tenants to pay for items that are considered normal wear and tear such as wear patterns in carpet, non excessive nail holes, etc. Good list, thanks for sharing.


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