A common issue between tenants and landlords is the amount of the deduction that the landlord has taken from their security deposit. As a landlord there are specifics that you can do to alleviate these problems
Provide evidence to back-up your claim - if you are claiming the tenant damaged your property, do you have pictures to back up your claim? Do you have pictures documenting the property before the tenant moved in, and then after they moved out? Do you have estimates for the cost of a repair or for replacement parts? If the tenant owes you back rent, do you have a certified letter sent to the tenant requesting this money, a notice to pay rent or quit, or evidence of eviction proceedings filed?
If the tenant has breached their lease in another way such as harassing neighbors or excessive noise, do you also have evidence of such? If you have enough evidence to back up your claim, then you can provide your tenant with this evidence. Again, the tenant may give up, or they may make one last effort to recover the money and try to sue you in small claims court.
Show You Have Legitimate Reason for Keeping the Security Deposit - to quickly resolve a dispute, provide the tenant with the legal reason you have kept their deposit.
A tenant’s first defense is to question your legal right to keep their security deposit. Your state's landlord tenant laws will define the legitimate reasons you can take deductions from a tenant's security deposit. Damage caused to the property or breaking the terms of their lease are two common reasons you may be able to keep your tenant’s security deposit.
Show You Have Followed Your State, County, and Local Laws - not only do you have to have a legitimate reason to withhold a tenant’s security deposit, but you must also make sure you have followed all security deposit procedures correctly. If a tenant is not satisfied with your legal right to keep their security deposit, their next step is to look for a mistake on your part.
Are You Willing to Go to Court? - even if you have a legal reason to withhold a tenant’s security deposit, have followed all state and local laws exactly, and have evidence to support your claim, your tenant may still try to sue you in small claims court to recover this money. Deciding if you want to deal with the hassle of small claims court or if you would rather just settle with the tenant for a sum of money is up to you.