Security Deposit

8 Replies


I am currently dealing with a situation in the state of SC where a previous landlord has contacted me and told me he was going to bill me due to the condition of the condo I was renting. He cited things such as the washer/dryer being dirty, a cleaning crew was needed, and a leak behind the fridge. The day I moved out, I had a walk through with him where he wrote me a check for $400 for my security deposit which was initially $500. 

Now he is coming back saying that he is going to bill me when all work is complete and that he expects payment at that time. This is ridicolous, as I felt as if I had cleaned the apartment well enough that anything else would constitute under normal wear and tear.

My question is that, under SC law, since he has already initiated a walk through and given me what he thought was an applicable refund of my security deposit, does that not constitute a done deal?

Is he legally allowed to bill me? I by no means felt as if the condo was left in bad shape, and dont believe that it is near as filthy as he is making it out to be.

Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.


Do you have a written itemization of the walk-out inspection or just a check?

How long ago did you move out?  What does your lease say about getting an accounting of the deposit back to you?  Here in CO its 30 days by default, up to 60 if called out in the lease.  If its longer than the time limit there's really no way to make it stick.  If its within the time limit then you may well have to pay.

this happened yesterday. We had a walk through in which he gave me a check for what he thought was reasonable which in return I went and cashed. Could you please explain what you mean by getting an accounting of the deposit back? 

Here in CO we are required to provide a tenant with an itemized list of deductions from the security deposit.  And that, along with any left over funds, has to be given to the tenant within 30 days of the moveout (or whatever the lease says, up to 60). Personally I would never give a tenant a check on move out day.   Many issues don't become apparent until you actually get cleaners and repair guys in to do the work.  I will walk through the place with the tenant and point out any issues I'm going to charge them for.  Some they may be able to fix, many they can't.  Then I will send a letter within the time limit outlining what I'm withholding.  If there is anything left, I send a check.  If not, I send a bill.

But if you don't provide that accounting within the time limit you lose the ability to withhold anything.

If you feel inappropriate deductions have been made you can push back.  If it really comes down to it, you can take him to small claims court.  In many areas a landlord can be penalized double or triple the amount improperly withheld.  However, you have to convince the judge the charges were not justified.  Just because he initially gave you the check (his mistake, IMHO) doesn't mean he can't charge you for damages.

I can tell you as a landlord it’s impossible to see all the damage/cleaning needed in a ten minute final walk through and that’s why I don’t do them anymore. In fact it can take me several trips to a house before I notice the cat vomit in the corner, that half the blinds don’t work, that the door frame is damaged from someone forcing the door open, the marks on the floor are in fact burn marks not dirt, an unauthorized satellite dish on the roof, etc. Unless South Carolina has a law preventing it, the landlord is within his rights to charge for cleaning/repairs regardless of if he returned the security deposit already or not. However, in my state, he has to provide in writing to your last known address an accounting of what the damage/cleaning was and how much it cost to remediate within 30 days and let you know the balance in 45, or if a shorter time is given in the lease then meet that.

Normal wear and tear only includes things like carpet/pad getting smushed over time from walking on it, floor wear, sunlight fading, washers failing over time leading to leaky faucets, it doesn’t include insufficient cleaning on your part. I would wait until you get something in writing from him, whatever is included as the definition of “in writing” per the terms of your lease.Keep in mind if you don’t pay him, future landlords may call him for reference, and he may place a collection on your credit report for the amount owed, and/or take you to small claims court.

Thank you all for your comments. They are appreciated. I realize that we need to come to a win win where we are both satisfied. I have made initiative to make a compromise with him. Thanks for your help! 

I suggest you to try to use a move out walk through inspection together with your landlord. It will document everything what the place looks like when you move out. You can share it to the landlord as well so both of you have a documentation what the place is look like when you move out. This will prevent from causing issues like security deposit problem.

FYI Stephen, I work that has a feature within the tenant portal where you can upload pictures of your move-in move-out condition and have a permanent record. You may want to look in to it for the next place you move. It's totally free

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.

By signing up, you indicate that you agree to the BiggerPockets Terms & Conditions.