Albuquerque, NM asked in Landlord - Tenant for New Mexico

Q: Can my landlord keep my security deposit for “excessive” normal wear and tear?

My landlord kept $1400 for “repairs”. They sent me a list that was not itemized which included charges for “excessive scuffs on one wall in bedroom”, “command strip removal”, “4 burnt light bulbs”. There were no legitimate damages. They added over $500 for “house cleaning” with no receipts. I left the place in good condition and clean.

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: It sounds like you're facing a frustrating situation with your landlord retaining part of your security deposit for what they've termed "excessive" wear and tear. Generally, landlords can deduct from a security deposit for damage beyond normal wear and tear, but what you've described, like scuffs on walls or replacing light bulbs, typically falls under normal wear and tear. The charge for command strip removal and house cleaning, especially without detailed receipts or an itemized list, also raises questions about the validity of these deductions.

You should start by reviewing your lease agreement and the local tenant-landlord laws. Most jurisdictions require landlords to provide a detailed, itemized list of deductions from security deposits, along with corresponding receipts for any repairs or cleaning that exceeds normal wear and tear. Without an itemized list and receipts, it's challenging for a landlord to justify withholding such a substantial amount.

If you believe these deductions are unjustified, you might consider sending a formal letter to your landlord requesting a more detailed explanation and the return of the disputed amount. If the issue isn't resolved through direct communication, you may want to seek advice or mediation from a local tenant association or consider small claims court as a means to recover your deposit. Remember, you have rights as a tenant, and there are resources available to help you assert those rights.

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.