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Oftentimes, landlords are difficult to deal with or, in the case of inexperienced landlords, don’t know or understand the Texas Property Code as it relates to leases and their obligations to tenants. Many times this results in the tenant’s security deposit being wrongfully withheld by the landlord upon expiration of the lease.
Pursuant to the Texas Property Code, a landlord who in bad faith retains a security deposit is liable for an amount equal to $100, three times the portion of the security deposit wrongfully withheld, and the tenant’s reasonable attorney’s fees in a suit to recover the deposit.
In addition, a landlord who does not provide a written description and itemized list of damages and charges, in bad faith, forfeits the right to withhold any portion of the security deposit or to bring suit against the tenant for damages to the premises. Also, the landlord bears the burden of proving that the retention of any portion of the security deposit was reasonable.
Moreover, a landlord who, within 30 days of the termination of the lease, who either (1) fails to return a security deposit or provide a written description and itemization of deductions is presumed to have acted in bad faith.
To defeat this presumption, the landlord must prove good faith, i.e., honesty in fact in the conduct or transaction concerned. Pulley v. Milberger, 198 S.W.3d 418, 428-29 (Tex.App.-Dallas 2006, pet. denied). Evidence that a landlord had reason to believe he was entitled to retain a security deposit to recover reasonable damages depends on a number of factors.
*Please note: Due to the costs involved and the favorability of land in Texas per contract and common law, we currently are not accepting residential tenant defense cases.