Christiansburg, VA asked in Landlord - Tenant and Small Claims for Virginia

Q: Can our landlord keep our full security deposit and cite it’s because we broke our lease?

We notified our landlord more than 30 days in advance that our offer was approved on a house and that we would be moving our prior to Oct 1. Our landlord knew months in advance we were house hunting. We asked multiple times what the process was and if we need to find a sublease, were responsible for the remaining lease, etc. She never gave us direction and just told us we have to have the carpets cleaned and turn in the keys. When asked about the security deposit multiple times, we were told we would be notified after the walkthrough. Now, 2 weeks after moving out, we asked again and were told they’re keeping the full deposit ($1075) because we broke our lease early. Can they do this without any notification and if they made no mention when we asked what our responsibility was?

1 Lawyer Answer
F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: In Virginia, a security deposit in a residential lease is to protect the landlord from any property damages that the tenant has caused to the premises during the term of the lease and such damages are identified in a condition report at the time of the tenant's move-out walk through. There may be a clause in your lease that provides for a monetary penalty in the event of an early termination by the tenant of the lease. You should review that provision in the lease. If the early termination provision does not give the landlord a right to take the security deposit as a penalty imposed against the tenant for an early termination or a breach of the lease, then the landlord has breached the lease. You will need to file a lawsuit in the General District Court in the county/city in which the premises is located and seek damages from the Court against the landlord for the amount of the security deposit. The amount of $1,075.00 is a small claims case matter for which no lawyers are permitted to be involved.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.