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How Would YOU Rule? §2.11 How Would You Rule?

Lesson 2:
Tenant Security Deposits
How would you rule on the following issues? Facts Click to
reveal the facts

White v Harding:  The Facts

Plaintiffs Sam and Susan White are suing Daniel Harding, their former landlord, to recover their $1000 security deposit. The Whites moved into the apartment on August 15, 2004, and moved out February 28, 2007. They testify that:

  • They paid a professional cleaning company $120 to have the apartment cleaned the day they moved out.
  • They rented a rug shampoo machine and cleaned the carpets themselves.
  • The landlord failed to provide them with an initial inspection although they requested one, and failed to return the security deposit or send a letter advising of the disposition of the deposit within the required 21 days.
  • They left the keys inside the apartment when they moved out. The landlord did not recover the keys until March 3, 2007, when a locksmith was hired to gain entry and install a new lock.

Defendant Daniel Harding owns the property and files a defendant’s claim seeking $200 in damages. He asserts that he mailed notice of the right to an initial inspection to the Whites but never received a request for an initial inspection, and that he mailed the notice of security deposit disposition to the Whites on March 22, 2007, to the address of the apartment they had vacated since they did not leave a forwarding address. He claims he was entitled to keep the $1000 deposit plus an additional $200 in damages due to:

  • Cleaning service costs of $150;
  • Carpet cleaning costs of $150 (per the rental agreement unless the tenants had the carpets professionally cleaned);
  • New paint throughout the apartment due to the numerous nail holes, smudges, and nicks on all of the walls ($400);
  • The cost of the locksmith and the new lock ($300);
  • Additional rent for March 1–3 at $50/day (monthly rent was $1500) for a total of $150; and
  • A late fee of $50 (a late fee applies per the rental agreement if the rent is not received by the first).

Defendant does not appear at the hearing, sending instead his property manager, Joelle Jones.

1. What deductions from the security deposit would you allow the defendant for his cleaning service and carpet cleaning expenses?

a. Full deductions for cleaning service ($150) and professional carpet cleaning ($150).

b. No deduction for cleaning service or professional carpet cleaning.

c. No deduction for cleaning service but a partial deduction for professional carpet cleaning.

d. Partial deduction for cleaning service but no deduction for professional carpet cleaning.

2. Should you allow the defendant a $400 deduction for painting?



3. Which of the following deductions should you allow for the defendant?

a. Locksmith charges.

b. Additional rent of $150.

c. Late fee of $50.

d. a–c.

e. a and b but not c.

f. b and c but not a.

4. May you consider the failure to provide notice of the right to request an initial inspection when deciding what deductions to allow?



5. Did the defendant mail the letter of security-deposit disposition within the proper period?



6. May the defendant appear through his property manager?



7.  Type your suggested award for plaintiffs and defendant in the box below.

  Deduction                $Dollars or $0

Cleaning service    $

Carpet cleaning     $

Painting               $

Locksmith            $

Additional rent      $

Late fee              $

For plaintiffs Sam and Susan White: $

For defendant Daniel Harding:  $

Costs for 


Click here to compare your award to the suggested award

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