Can a landlord make you pay money for damages after your deposit has already been returned at a meeting at the property?


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Yes, a landlord has the right to pursue damages from a tenant. These damages are covered by the security deposit. The landlord may file a lawsuit against the renter for additional repair costs if the damages are significant. If your deposit is insufficient, you refuse to pay what the deposit does not cover, or both, they may take legal action against you or send your account to collections. After that, it will follow you around, make it harder for you to rent in the future, and negatively impact your credit score.

If you refuse to pay, you will have to face with the repercussions, including collection efforts and/or a court judgment. You cannot be arrested for nonpayment by them.


“It is not uncommon for landlords to discover damage after the fact. That is, after the landlord has signed off and returned all or a portion of the security deposit. The landlord can still go after the tenant in small claims court. The problem for the landlord would be proving that the damage found was caused by the tenant and did not occur sometime after the tenant moved out.

I have signed off on tenants only to discover significant damage after doing the walk through and have told the tenant and ended up going to court. Some judges would say, ” Too bad Mr. Landlord, you should have been more thorough.” Another judge might say,” You should have picked up on the damage but you have a valid case and sometimes things do get overlooked. You have proven that your tenant caused the damage. I am awarding you _______”


“If you caused the damage, legally you are still responsible for it. Whether the LL can prove you caused the damage is a much different story. He did a walk through with you present and returned the deposit. This clearly indicates he didn’t find any damage at the time. In order to prevail in court now, he is going to have to show that the damage could not or should not been found on a standard walk through. In other words, if he is now claiming that the stove is damaged or there is a hole in the wall, the court is going to want to know why he didn’t find the damage during the walk through. Any court is going to look at this type of claim by a LL and find that it is awfully convenient that he didn’t find these damages until you weren’t present.

On the other hand, if the damages are of a type that might not be easily found during a walk through, he has a much better case. There are going to be many factors for the court to consider.”


“Not all damages are obvious. A walk through doesn’t show all damages. If you caused the damage, you are responsible for them. Why would you think you weren’t? There are laws about how fast a deposit has to be returned and have often found things wrong later than that. How was I to know that she had flushed underwear down the toilet and they gradually formed quite a mess for me. It was expensive to get someone to pull all of that out of there. Also, on the walk through I didn’t realize she had poured something down the toilet…like cement. She was quite a tenant. It cost me thousands to get the apartment back to as nice as it was. And then she sued me and I won…I had pictures and receipts and then appealed and I won again. Yes, they can be the answer.”


“sure, if he can prove that the damages were done by you even tho he returned your security deposit too early
very few landlords will return the deposit before completely examining the property when the tenant is entirely vacated”


“Probably not.

The meeting at the property was to walk through and assess if there were any damages.

If you were given your money back at the end of that meeting, the landlord was satisfied at that point that there were no damages.

Therefore, someone must have gone into the place after and done something bad.

So. How long after the meeting did the landlord ask for damages? Six hours? Six days? Six weeks?

Six hours later, he may have a claim. ‘Didn’t see it during the walk through, but saw it when he went back to lock up.

Six hours, days or weeks, someone has been in there and has done something and the landlord is trying to get you to pay for his/her own stupidity in not securing the place.

So – the first thing you ask is “When did you see this damage and will you send me a photo of the damage with the time stamp on it so I can show my lawyers.”

Tell them to send you a letter on their letterhead, also. They must describe the damage, and include a time stamped picture.

If they do not produce this, they have no claim and you can tell them that “I will not consider giving you any money until you send me a letter detailing the damage, the date and time you saw it and a photo that is time stamped, that shows the complete damage.”

And basically, you are free until such time they can produce this for you.

If they do, and the date and time are not within 24 hours of the time you walked through, you – or your lawyer – will tell them:

: I walked through the property with the landlord on this date at this time. Afterwards I was refunded my deposit and was told everything was fine. then two days after, the landlord comes back to me wanting to charge me for damage that he found after we walked through and he agreed there was no damage.

I think he left the unit unsecured and someone broke in and did it. As I was gone and my deposit was refunded because the unit was fine, this is not my fault – this person is trying to extort me.”

I think that will do for you. Ok?”


“If you legitimately caused the damages yes. It is not uncommon to find damages after the unit is vacated & they start preparing it for the new tenant. You do not get off Scott free because they jumped the gun in refunding the deposit. If you cause the damage, then you have to pay it otherwise you are not the responsible for any damages made by someone else. As you have mentioned that your security deposit has returned to you, but still you are liable to pay the amount.”






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