Am I legally required to return the security deposit to the tenant?
I am a landlord. A tenant that an East Tennessee Housing Authority case was renting from us on a voucher. She has no children, works full time, and had her boyfriend living with her. ETHRA came and inspected the residence, she signed a lease, and moved in. She lived there a year, and then ETHRA came and inspected, again, she signed another lease, and about 2 months later, she gave us a 30 day notice that she was moving out. She told me that she had painted, and was going to paint the residence back to the color that it was when she rented it, and that she was going to replace the vinyl on the kitchen floor where they had ripped it. We made arrangements for me to come over and look at the residence a few days before the end of the month...When I got there, she told me that she wasn't done, so could I come on the very last day. I did, and found that she was trying to clean the place with the water already turned off, the place was not painted back to the original color, and the kitchen floor was not replaced, but patched. I told her that I would be in touch with her, but that I wanted to talk to her case worker from ETHRA. I phoned him immediately, but did not hear from him right away. Then I got a call from the Legal Aid office that the tenant wanted her security deposit returned. I returned the call and spoke to that case worker, who informed me that I was out of compliance with the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, because I have not supplied an itemized list with costs to her, and that I have to return the entire deposit to the tenant. Is this true? Is there anything that I can do?10/23/2007 | Category: Landlord Ten... » Security Dep... | State: Tennessee | #10826
The following is a statute:
66-28-301. Security deposits.
(a) All landlords of residential property requiring security deposits
prior to occupancy are required to deposit all tenants' security deposits
in an account used only for that purpose, in any bank or other lending
institution subject to regulation by the state of Tennessee or any agency
of the United States government. Prospective tenants shall be informed of
the location of the separate account.
(b) Within ten (10) business days of the termination of occupancy, but
prior to any repairs or cleanup of the premises:
(1) The landlord shall inspect the premises and compile a comprehensive
listing of any damage to the unit that is the basis for any charge
against the security deposit and the estimated dollar cost of repairing
the damage. The tenant shall then have the right to inspect the premises
to ascertain the accuracy of the listing. The landlord and the tenant
shall sign the listing, which signatures shall be conclusive evidence of
the accuracy of the listing. If the tenant refuses to sign the listing,
the tenant shall state specifically in writing the items on the list to
which the tenant dissents, and shall sign the statement of dissent; or
(2) If the tenant has moved or is otherwise inaccessible to the
landlord, and, if at least ten (10) days before the lease termination
date, the landlord has given the tenant written notice of the tenant's
right to schedule a mutual inspection of the subject premises with the
landlord during normal business hours and the tenant has not contacted
the landlord prior to vacating the premises or the tenant has waived in
writing the right of inspection, the landlord shall then inspect the
premises and compile a comprehensive listing of any damage to the unit
that is the basis for any charge against the security deposit and the
estimated dollar cost of repairing the damage. The landlord shall then
mail a copy of the listing of damages and estimated cost of repairs to
the tenant at the tenant's last known mailing address. After mailing the
copy of the listing of damages and estimated cost of repairs to the
tenant, the landlord may begin to prepare the unit for occupancy.
(c) No landlord shall be entitled to retain any portion of a security
deposit if the security deposit was not deposited in a separate account
as required by subsection (a) and if the final damage listing required by
subsection (b) is not provided.
(d) A tenant who disputes the accuracy of the final damage listing
given pursuant to subsection (b) may bring an action in a circuit or
general sessions court of competent jurisdiction of this state. The
tenant's claim shall be limited to those items from which the tenant
specifically dissented in accordance with the listing or specifically
dissented in accordance with subsection (b); otherwise the tenant shall
not be entitled to recover any damages under this section.
(e) Should a tenant vacate the premises with unpaid rent or other
amounts due and owing, the landlord may remove the deposit from the
account and apply the moneys to the unpaid debt.
(f) In the event the tenant leaves not owing rent and having any refund
due, the landlord shall send notification to the last known or reasonable
determinable address, of the amount of any refund due the tenant. In the
event the landlord shall not have received a response from the tenant
within sixty (60) days from the sending of such notification, the
landlord may remove the deposit from the account and retain it free from
any claim of the tenant or any person claiming in the tenant's behalf.
(g) This section does not preclude the landlord or tenant from
recovering other damages to which such landlord or tenant may be entitled
under this chapter.
(h)(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), all landlords
of residential property shall be required to notify their tenants at the
time such persons sign the lease and submit the security deposit, of the
location of the separate account required to be maintained pursuant to
this section, but shall not be required to provide the account number to
such persons, nor shall they be required to provide such information to a
person who is a prospective tenant.
(2) The provisions of subdivision (h)(1) do not apply in counties
having a population according to the 1990 federal census or any
subsequent federal census, of:
not less than nor more than
66-28-401. General maintenance and conduct obligations.
The tenant shall:
(1) Comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by
applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting
health and safety;
(2) Keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as
clean and safe as the condition of the premises when the tenant took
(3) Dispose from the tenant's dwelling unit all ashes, rubbish,
garbage, and other waste to the designated collection areas and into
(4) Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or
remove any part of the premises or permit any person to do so; and shall
not engage in any illegal conduct on the premises; and
(5) Act and require other persons on the premises, with the tenant's or
other occupants' consent, to act in a manner that will not disturb the
neighbors' peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
66-28-506. Failure of tenant to maintain dwelling.
If there is noncompliance by the tenant with § 66-28-401 materially
affecting health and safety that can be remedied by repair, replacement
of a damaged item or cleaning, and the tenant fails to comply as promptly
as conditions require in case of emergency or within fourteen (14) days
after written notice by the landlord specifying the breach and requesting
that the tenant remedy it within that period of time, the landlord may
enter the dwelling unit and cause the work to be done in a workmanlike
manner and submit an itemized bill for the actual and reasonable cost or
the fair and reasonable value thereof as rent on the next date when
periodic rent is due, or if the rental agreement has terminated, for