Cranston, RI asked in Landlord - Tenant for Rhode Island

Q: I moved out of an apartment in May, and our former landlord is withholding the difference of our security deposit.

She is accusing us of stealing 4 or 5 in-window A/C units, which she lent to us for the year, but we definitely did not take. We also asked for receipts of alleged damages to the house, which did not add up to us. Security deposit was $2400 when we moved in, she is charging us $2500 for labor/parts to repaint 1 wall as well as the A/C units. Is there any way to determine how much security deposit we get back, considering our landlord never specified exactly what we did?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Albin Moser
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  • Providence, RI
  • Licensed in Rhode Island

A: You might have a case against your former landlord. While it is true that landlords can deduct for damage, missing air conditioners are not exactly damage. Also, landlords can deduct for repairs but they have to send you an itemization within twenty (20) days. You said that you didn't get anything specific so I don't know if the landlord complied with this part of the law or not.

The Security Deposit section of the Rhode Island Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, R.I. Gen Laws section 34-18-19, paragraphs (b) and (c) provide what your rights are in case the landlord did not meet a legal obligation to you:

"(b) Upon termination of the tenancy, the amount of security deposit due to the tenant shall be the entire amount given by the tenant as a security deposit, minus any amount of unpaid accrued rent, the amount due, if any, for reasonable cleaning expenses, the amount due, if any, for reasonable trash disposal expenses and the amount of physical damages to the premises, other than ordinary wear and tear, that the landlord has suffered by reason of the tenant’s noncompliance with § 34-18-24, all as itemized by the landlord in a written notice delivered to the tenant. The landlord shall deliver the notice, together with the amount of the security deposit due to the tenant, within twenty (20) days after the later of either termination of the tenancy, delivery of possession, or the tenant’s providing the landlord with a forwarding address for the purpose of receiving the security deposit.

"(c) If the landlord fails to comply with subsection (b), the tenant may recover the amount due him or her, together with damages in an amount equal to twice the amount wrongfully withheld, and reasonable attorney fees."

I hope this helps. You can find more information about the Rhode Island Residential Landlord and Tenant Act on Justia. You can also find information on the State of Rhode Island websites including a Landlord Tenant Handbook that summarizes your rights.

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