Can the landlord just take the security deposit? It it legal or illegal? 4 Answers as of February 18, 2014

My father and mother moved into an apartment (it was a 2 apartment house with an upstairs apartment and a downstairs apartment that were each rented out to different tenants)). They moved in 2001. In 3/2004 they received a new lease. In June of 2004 my mom died and dad kept living there until this November of 2013 (he never received another lease). Two men that are related through marriage (and don't get along) owned the place. In Sept/2013 dad sent a certified letter to notify the 1 landlord of his moving out at the end of Nov/2013 and that landlord acknowledged it. It has been 2 months and dad hadn't heard from the landlords about his security deposit (I thought the landlord was supposed to get in touch with him within 30 days). We found out that the 2nd landlord only found out my dad moved a few days ago, about February 10, when he happened to stop by the place. When my parents lived in the apartment they had to pay their own electric bill (which was in their name) and they also had to pay water and sewer bills (that were in the landlord's name) when they were presented quarterly from the landlord. As of November/2012 the 1st landlord stopped picking up the rent and instead gave dad deposit slips for dad to deposit the rent directly into the landlord's bank account. The landlord from that time until dad moved did not present dad with the water and sewer bills. Now the landlords are saying that they are going to take most of dad's security deposit to pay for the water and sewer bills they say he owes, though the landlord's didn't present him with the bills from November 2012 until he moved out. Also the landlord says he doesn't think dad's security deposit was ever deposited into an interest bearing account these past 12 years. Is any of that legal? We are trying to figure out how to proceed. Thank you.

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Stuart P Gelberg
Stuart P Gelberg | Stuart P Gelberg
Your dad owes the water and sewer bills. Unless they have multiple rental units they were not required (unless the lease says otherwise) to deposit the security into an interest bearing acct.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/18/2014
James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C. | James T. Weiner
It does not sound 100% legal but get the Michigan landlord tenant handbook, your rights are outlined there. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/Publications/tenantlandlord.pdf
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/18/2014
Peters Law, PLLC
Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
Have dad sue for the security deposit. But frankly, after his much time, I would imagine that cleaning, repairs etc, would exceed the amount of the deposit.
Answer Applies to: Idaho
Replied: 2/18/2014
Dessy & Dessy, a Professional Corporation | Ronald D. Dessy
It sounds like the landlord mistakenly failed to collect utility payments from your father, and that past practice shows he is entitled to those payments. Technically, you should have received a Security Deposit Disposition form itemizing the manner in which the deposit was addresses after your father vacated, but if the amount owed (+ interest,assuming the issue of interest was not addressed by the prior written agreement) is more than the deposit, it is probably a no-harm-no foul deal.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/18/2014
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