Skip Navigation
DHCA logo
>Maryland Office Of People's Counsel
Xoom Energy Maryland, LLC and Customer Refunds
>Maryland Office Of People's Counsel
New Rules for LifeLine Assistance
Smoke Alarm Law
English / Spanish (Español)

Decisions and Orders for Highlighted Security
Deposit Cases from 2001 - 2005

This page contains highlighted summaries of Decisions and Orders, for Security Deposit cases, made by the Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affiars (COLTA) between 2001 and 2005.  To view the summary, click on the Case Number in the table below.  To view the complete Decision and Order, click on the Case Number contained within the summary.

To see a complete list of all Decisions and Orders for all types of cases, please go the Decisions and Orders page.

Case # Case Name Date Order Issued Prevailing Party/Award
25885 Masters vs. Mishra Oct. 13, 2005 Tenant $1,300.00
25714 Downing, Hussion, McIntosh, and Ward vs. Finlay May 11, 2005 Tenant $2,244.00
25651 Shao and Ferger vs. Weissman Apr. 12, 2005 Tenant $1,198.00
25660 Witcher and Brooks vs. Ulmer and Pham Mar. 7, 2005 Tenant $3,654.60
25694 McCune vs. Huggins, et al. Feb. 11, 2005 Tenant $952.28
25556 Ross vs. Villars Sept. 15, 2004 ???
25414 Montenegro vs. Tadkowski June 22, 2004 Tenant $2,200.00
25207 Chorvat and Bowman vs. Daley Mar. 25, 2004 Tenant $2,788.00
24967 Allen vs. Bibb and Hayes, Hayes Real Estate, Inc. Jan. 5, 2004 Tenant $748.04
24684 Murray vs. Conerly and Charles Hayes, Hayes Real Estate, Inc. May 20, 2003 Tenant $1,250.66
24538 Nadler vs. Hyder, and Marydale Realty Management, Inc. Apr. 30, 2003 Tenant $2,338.25
24442 Henningsen vs. Schappell Apr. 17, 2003 Landlord
13290 Garcia and Barreto vs. Kushawaha Feb. 27, 2003 Tenant $1,010.57
12738 Tucker and Gray-Tucker vs. Koenick Oct. 11, 2002 Tenants $1,920.00
11783 Waters-Sherrod vs. Kushawaha Aug. 12, 2002 Landlord
11957 Finau, et al. vs. Hoage, et al. Apr. 12, 2002 Tenant $2,149.14
10591 Prakash and Richman vs. Burkett July 30, 2001 Tenant $2,600.00
10609 Harris and Linderman vs. Ross July 24, 2001 Tenant $500.00
10754 Gerdes and Larsen vs. Bell Apr. 23, 2001 Tenant $1,820.00
10585 Randall vs. Murray Apr. 3, 2001 Tenant $1,937.00
10383 Rodriguez vs. Edwards Mar. 26, 2001 Tenant $3,122.69
10126 Odom vs. Morris Mar. 15, 2001 Tenant $228.80
10283 Mullin vs. Schafer-Swarm Feb. 27, 2001 Tenant $1,073.72

 

Case Summaries


 

Arrow, up icon Masters vs. Mishra

Case #  25885
Date Order Issued  October 13, 2005
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary of Complaint
The Complainants, former tenants Gary and Ella Masters, filed a complaint claiming that their former landlord, Respondent Lakshmi Mishra, assessed unjust charges in the amount of $1,300.00 against their $2,000.00 security deposit after the termination of their tenancy.

The Respondent contended that: (1) the Complainants damaged the Property in excess of ordinary wear and tear during their tenancy, and (2) he incurred actual expense to repair that damage after the termination of the Complainants’ tenancy, and therefore, was entitled to retain that portion of the security deposit.

Findings
The Commission found that the Complainants did not damage the rear yard or lawn at the Property during their tenancy.  The Commission further found that the Complainants properly maintained the yards and grounds of the Property during their tenancy in accordance with Lease addendum dated February 10, 2000, which required that, “Grass must be well cut, bushes must be well trimmed and yard clean.”  These findings were supported by the credible testimony of both the Complainants and Respondent’s witness, landscape contractor Romeo Castro, that rear yard area cleaned out by the landscaper contained bushes and ground cover that were present of long duration, possibly 10 to 15 years.  The Respondent failed to provide any evidence that the Complainants planted the bushes and ground cover or damaged the yard in any way.  Therefore, the Respondent’s assessment of $1,300.00 against the Complainants’ security deposit for landscaping work was disallowed.

The Order
The Commission ordered the Respondent to pay the Complainants $1,300.00, which sum represents the amount improperly withheld from the Complainants’ security deposit.


Arrow, up icon Downing, Hussion, McIntosh, and Ward vs. Finlay

Case #  25714
Date Order Issued  May 11, 2005
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary of Complaint
The Complainants, Heidi Downing, Julie Hussion, Megan McIntosh, and Heather Ward, filed a complaint claiming that their former landlord, James and Pamela Finlay: (1) assessed unjust charges against their $2,200.00 security deposit plus accrued interest after the termination of their tenancy; (2) failed to issue them an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs actually incurred to repair that damage within 45 days after the termination of their tenancy; and (3) failed to refund any portion of their security deposit.

The Complainants requested an Order from the Commission that the Respondent refund their entire security deposit, plus accrued interest, less the amount previously refunded by the Respondent, for a total award of $1,437.10.

The Complainants sought an Order from the Commission for the Respondents to refund their entire security deposit of $2,200.00, plus accrued interest. In addition to the refund of their security deposit, the Complainants requested an additional award of threefold of the withheld amount, plus attorney's fees as a penalty.

Findings
The Commission found that the Complainants breached the lease by abandoning the property as of May 31, 2004, one month prior to the expiration of the Lease, and that they did not pay rent for the month of June 2004. Upon notification by the Complainants that they were vacating the property one month early, the Respondents placed the property up for sale, but not for rent. The Respondents contended that this was their reasonable diligence to mitigate the Complainants' damages. The Commission found however that the Respondents' efforts to mitigate damages by placing the property only for sale did not satisfy the requirement of § 8-207(a)(3) of the Real Property Article, Maryland Annotated Code. Thus, the Complainants did not owe rent to the Respondents for the month of June 2004. ”  The Commission further found that the Respondents failed to provide sufficient evidence regarding what amount the Complainants owed toward the last water bill, or what final amount the Respondents paid to WSSC.

The Commission found that the Respondents had no reasonable basis to withhold any portion of the Complainant's $2,200.00 security deposit or $44.00 in accrued interest. However, the Commission did not find that the Respondents' withholding of the security deposit was egregious or in bad faith, and therefore the Complainants' request for an award of a three-fold penalty, plus reasonable attorneys' fees, was denied.

The Order
The Commission ordered the Respondent to pay the Complainants $2,244.00, which sum represents their security deposit of $2,200.00 plus $44.00 interest.

The Respondents subsequently satisfied the Order and paid the Complainants $2,244.00.


Arrow, up icon Shao and Ferger vs. Weissman

Case #  25651
Date Order Issued  April 12, 2005
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary of Complaint
The Complainants, former tenants Haifeng (Sally) Shao and Marvin Ferger, filed a complaint claiming that their former landlord, Respondent Renay Weissman: (1) assessed unjust charges against their $1,850.00 security deposit after the termination of their tenancy; (2) failed to issue them an itemized list of damages claimed against the security deposit, together with a statement of the cost actually incurred to repair that damage, within 45 days after the termination of her tenancy; (3) failed to refund any portion of the security deposit within 45 days after the termination of her tenancy; and (4) failed to credit the security deposit with accrued interest.

The Respondent contended that: (1) the Complainants damaged the Property in excess of ordinary wear and tear during their tenancy; and (2) the cost actually incurred to repair that damage far exceeded the amount of the Complainants’ security deposit plus accrued interest, and therefore, the Complainants were not entitled to a refund of any portion of the security deposit.

Findings
The Commission found that the Respondent:  (1) withheld from the Complainants’ security deposit: (A) the cost to replace appliances in the Property that, although unclean, were not damaged by abuse or in excess of ordinary wear and tear by the Complainants; (B) the cost to re-glaze a bathtub that was a pre-existing condition; (C) the cost to remove trash and debris and repair or replace items for which no cost was actually incurred; (D) the cost to repaint the interior walls and to clean the carpets, that were not damaged in excess of ordinary wear and tear by the Complainants, in violation of § 8-203(f)(1) and (4) of the State Code; (2) failed to send to the Complainants an itemized list of damages, together with a statement of costs incurred to repair that damage, within 45 days after the termination of the Complainants’ tenancy, in violation of § 8-203(g)(1) of the State Code, and therefore, pursuant to § 8-203(g)(2), the Respondent had forfeited her right to withhold any portion of the Complainants’ security deposit for damages; (3) without a reasonable basis, failed to refund any portion of the Complainants’ $1,850.00 security deposit after the termination of their tenancy, in violation of   § 8-203(e)(4) of the State Code; and (4) failed to credit the Complainants’ security deposit with two years simple interest at the rate of 4% per year, which sum is $148.00 ($1,850.00 deposit x 4% = $74.00 x 2 years = $148.00), in violation of § 8-203(e) of the State Code.

The Order
The Commission ordered the Respondent to pay the Complainants $1,198.00, which sum represents the Complainants’ security deposit ($1,850.00) plus accrued interest ($148.00).


Arrow, up icon Witcher and Brooks vs. Ulmer and Pham

Case #  25660
Date Order Issued  March 7, 2005
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary of Complaint
The Complainants, former tenants Delmar Witcher and Donna Brooks, filed a complaint claiming that their former landlords, Respondents Brian W. Ulmer and Phuong K. Pham, (1) failed to be present for a final walk-through inspection of the Property (2) assessed unjust charges against their $3,850.00 security deposit after the termination of their tenancy, and (3) without a reasonable basis, failed to refund any portion of their security deposit plus accrued interest, within 45 days after the termination of their tenancy.

The Respondents contended that: (1) the Complainants damaged the Property in excess of ordinary wear and tear during their tenancy, and (2) the cost actually incurred to repair that damage far exceeded the amount of the Complainants’ security deposit plus accrued interest, and therefore, the Complainants were not entitled to a refund.

Findings
The Commission found that: (1) the Complainants failed to properly request a final walkthrough inspection of the Property and therefore, the Landlords were under no obligation to conduct a final inspection of the Property with them; (2) the Respondents withheld from the Complainants’ security deposit the cost to replace elements in the Property that, although unclean, were not damaged in excess of ordinary wear and tear and did not warrant replacement, the cost to repair damage for which no proof of repair was provided, and the cost to make repairs which were the Respondents’ obligation, in violation of § 8-203(f)(1) and (4) of the State Code, which caused a defective tenancy; (3) the Respondents lawfully withheld from the Complainants’ security deposit the cost to replace one casement window and to repair a screen door, which were damages caused by the Complainants in excess of ordinary wear and tear; (4) the Respondents failed to credit the Complainants’ security deposit with one-year simple interest (4%), in violation of § 8-203(e) of the State Code; and (5) the Respondents, without a reasonable basis, withheld $3,654.00 from the Complainants’ security deposit plus accrued interest after the termination of their tenancy, in violation of § 8-203(e)(4) of the State Code.  The Commission further found that the Respondents’ actions, although misguided, did not rise to the level of egregiousness and bad faith necessary to warrant a penalty or attorney’s fees, and therefore, Complainants’ request for such an award was denied.

The Order
The Commission ordered the Respondents to pay the Complainants $3,654.60, which sum represented the Complainants security deposit ($3,850.00) plus accrued interest ($154.00) less damages rightfully withheld ($349.40).


Arrow, up icon McCune vs. Huggins, et al.

Case #  25694
Date Order Issued  February 11, 2005
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary of Complaint
The Complainant, Dennis McClune, filed a complaint alleging that his former landlords, Harold H. Huggins and Jeanne A. Huggins, Trustees of the Harold H. Huggins Revocable Trust, and Jeanne A. Huggins and Harold H. Huggins, Trustees of the Jeanne A. Huggins Revocable Trust, owners of the property ("Respondents"), and Harold H. Huggins, Harold H. Huggins Realty, Inc.: (1) assessed unjust charges, in the amount of $952.28, against his $2,700.00 security deposit, after the termination of his tenancy; and (2) without a reasonable basis failed to refund $952.28 of his security deposit within 45 days after the termination of his tenancy.

The Respondents contended that: (1) the Complainant damaged the property in excess of ordinary wear and tear during his tenancy; (2) they incurred actual expense to repair those damages; and (3) the repairs were completed or ordered within 45 days after the termination of the Complainant's tenancy.

The Complainant sought an Order from the Commission for the Respondents to refund the withheld portion of his security deposit, plus threefold that withheld amount as a penalty based on the egregiousness of the unreasonable withholding.

Findings
The Commission found that the Complainant damaged the kitchen countertop in the property during his tenancy, and that the damage was in excess of ordinary wear and tear. However, the Commission further found that the Respondents failed to repair or replace the kitchen countertop, and did not incur any actual expense until September 30, 2004, six months after the termination of the Complainant's tenancy. Therefore, the Commission disallowed the charge of $325.00 assessed against the Complainant's security deposit for the replacement of the kitchen countertop. ”  The Commission found that the Complainant did not damage the storm windows or storm door glass in the property during his tenancy. The Commission found that the damage was the direct result of vandalism by unknown parties and was not the responsibility of the Complainant. Therefore, the charges for replacing the storm windows ($213.64) and the broken storm door panels ($131.70) assessed against the Complainant's security deposit were disallowed.

The Commission found that the Complainant mowed the grass, weeded the flower beds, trimmed and otherwise properly maintained the bushes and shrubbery at the property during his tenancy. Furthermore, the landscaping work was performed on April 28, 2004, at a cost of $185.00, but the bill was not paid, and no cost was actually incurred by the Respondents, until June 10, 2004, over 72 days after the termination of the Complainant's tenancy. Therefore, the $185.00 assessed against the Complainant's security deposit to weed flower beds, mow the grass and trim overgrown bushes and shrubs, was disallowed.

At the hearing, Respondents' attorney withdrew the charge of $96.94 assessed by the Respondents against the security deposit to replace a missing under cabinet toaster oven in the kitchen. Therefore, the Commission disallowed the charge of $96.94 assessed against the Complainant's security deposit for replacement of the toaster oven.

Although the Respondents had no reasonable basis to withhold the total sum of $952.28 from the Complainant's security deposit, the Commission found that the Respondents' actions did not rise to the level of egregiousness and bad faith necessary to award a penalty, and therefore, Complainant's request for such an award was denied.

The Order
The Commission ordered the Respondents to pay the Complainant $952.28, which was the amount wrongfully withheld from his security deposit.

The Respondents subsequently satisfied the Order and paid the Complainant $952.28.


Arrow, up icon Ross vs. Villars

PLACE HOLDER FOR ROSS VS. VILLARS SUMMARY


Arrow, up icon Montenegro vs. Tadkowski

Case #  25414
Date Order Issued  June 22, 2004
Subject  Security Deposits, Penalties, Attorney Fees

Summary of Complaint
Ana Montenegro (the “Complainant”), who was a tenant in a condominium owned by her landlord Thaddeus Tadkowski (the “Respondent”) filed a complaint alleging that he violated the Maryland Security Deposit Act by wrongly withholding her security deposit after she vacated the premises.  The Respondent claimed that the Complainant moved out prematurely and owed a month’s rent, and that she had caused property damages to the unit.

The Commission held a public hearing on April 21, 2004

Findings
The Commission found the following: (1) the parties entered into a lease beginning April 1, 2003, and ending March 31, 2004, at a monthly rent of $1100 and the Complainant paid a security deposit of $2200; (2) on June 2, 2003, in writing and otherwise, the Complainant notified the Respondent that the unit’s air conditioning was not working;  (3) June 4, 2003, the Respondent’s agent informed the Complainant that the Respondent “will not hold you to your lease but will release you with no penalty should you want to relocate;” (4) on June 6, 2003,  the Respondent issued a Notice to Vacate, telling the Complainant to move out by July 31, 2003, but in correspondence dated June 11, 2003,  the Respondent withdrew the Notice to Vacate, reiterating that he would release the Complainant from the lease if she wished to move;  (5) on June 17, 2003, the Office of Housing Code Inspection ordered Respondent to fix or replace the air conditioning system within 30 days;  (6) on or about July 3, 2003,  the Respondent replaced the air conditioning system;  (7) on September 22, 2003, the Complainant sent a notice to the Respondent informing him that she was accepting his offer to terminate the lease without penalty and would vacate the property by the end of September, 2003; (8) on September 23, 2003, the Respondent notified Complainant that she had no permission to vacate the unit prematurely, that his letter of June 4, 2003, was rescinded, and that he would hold her to the full term of the lease; (9) the Complainant moved out by September 30, 2003;  (10) on October 14, 2003, the Respondent sent Complainant a notice stating he would withhold $90 from the security deposit for cleaning and minor damage and the rest of the deposit for any lost rents; he added he would place the unit up for sale or rent; (11) on December 10, 2003, the Respondent sent a new notice to the Complainant stating that he was withholding $1162 for various itemized damages, $1100 for the October rent, and $55 for the October late payment fee.  He added that he would credit the sum of $11 as interest on the deposit at the rate of 1% per year; (12) in spite of his claim to “rent or sell” the unit, the Respondent only advertised it for sale beginning October 6, 2003, and not for rent; (13) the Complainant paid $1000 in attorney fees to pursue the refund of her security deposit.

Commission Rulings
(1) The fundamental issue was whether or not the Complainant had the right to terminate her lease early and without penalty.  The Commission noted that the Respondent’s notice of June 4, as worded, was an unconditional offer that Complainant could accept within a reasonable time, and that the Complainant did accept it within a reasonable time.  The offer was not withdrawn until after the Complainant accepted it, and the withdrawal was therefore too late.  Therefore, the Complainant properly terminated the lease as of September 30, 2003 and owed no rent beyond that date.  (2) The Respondent failed to provide proof that the Complainant caused any damage in excess of ordinary wear and tear even though the Commission had subpoenaed such evidence from him, and therefore was not entitled to withhold any charges for repairs from the deposit under Section 8-203(f) (1).  (3) By failing to offer the unit for rent after the Complainant moved out, the Respondent failed to properly mitigate his damages, as required by Section 8-207 of the Maryland Real Property Article, and therefore could not charge for any lost rent even if the Complainant had terminated prematurely.  (4) The notice of December 10, 2003 listing many repairs not mentioned in the October 14 notice, did not comply with the 45 day deadline of Section 8-203(g) (1) and therefore the Respondent had no right to withhold such additional damages from the security deposit. (5) Respondent violated Section 8-203(e) by failing to credit the Complainant with interest at the rate of 2% every 6 months, and calculated the correct interest to be 2% of $2200, or $44.

The Commission also found: (6) that the Respondent acted in bad faith by attempting to withdraw his unconditional offer to release Complainant from the lease without penalty after she had accepted that offer, and therefore, under Section 8-203(e)(4) he was liable to the Complainant for a penalty in the amount of the security deposit plus interest, or $2244; and (7) the Respondent was liable for Complainant’s actual attorney fees up to the amount of $1000 pursuant to Section 8-203(e)(4).

The Order
That the Respondent pay the Complainant the sum of $2200 for the full refund of the security deposit, $44 for 6 months’ interest on the deposit, $2244 as a penalty, and $1000 for attorney fees, for a total of $5488.00, within 30 days.


Arrow, up icon Chorvat and Bowman vs. Daley

Case #  25207
Date Order Issued  March 25, 2004
Subject  Early Lease Termination by Military Personnel; Security deposit

Summary of ComplaintOn April 4, 2003, Crystal Chorvat and Bobbiann Bowman (the “Complainants”) filed a complaint against Paul and Rowshon Daley (the “Respondents”).  The Complainants claimed that the Respondents:  (1) failed to honor Section 8-212.1 of the Maryland Real Property Article, regarding early lease terminations for military personnel; (2) failed to refund any part of their security deposit within 45 days after they vacated the premises in violation of Section 8-203(e)(1) of the State Code; (3) assessed improper charges against their security deposit in violation of Section 8-203(f)(1) and (2) of the State Code; and (4) failed to itemize the deductions  from the security deposit within 45 days after they vacated the premises, in violation of Section 8-203 (g)(1) of the State Code.

The Respondents assert that: (1) only Complainant Bowman received active duty orders and Complainant Chorvat therefore had no right to terminate the lease early under the military termination provisions of Maryland law; (2) Complainant Chorvat breached the lease by moving out early and not paying rent; (3) the Complainants damaged the property beyond ordinary wear and tear; and (4) the lost rent and property damage exceeded the security deposit so Complainant Chorvat was not entitled to any refund.

The Commission held hearings on November 19, 2003, and February 11, 2004, and heard testimony from both of the Complainants and from Respondent Paul Daley, who was also represented by attorney Sylvia Wagner.

The Commission found that: (1) the Complainants entered into a lease with Respondents to begin November 1, 2002, and to end August 31, 2003, with monthly rent of $1995 and a total security deposit (including pet deposit and carpet deposit) of $2895; (2)in February, 2003, Complainant Bowman received orders assigning her to active duty in the Persian Gulf; (3)on March 3, 2003, the Complainants gave written notice to the Respondents  that they were terminating their lease effective March 31, 2003 pursuant to Section 8-212.1 of the State Code; (4) on March 3, 2003 both Complainants vacated the premises; (5) the carpet cleaning bill was only $175 although the carpet cleaning deposit was $300; (6) the Respondents sent the Complainants a bill for unpaid rent on July 15, 2003, demanding rent at a reduced rate through July 30; (7) on September 12, 2003, the Respondents sent an itemized list of deductions from the security deposit and claimed an additional balance due of $1919 for unpaid rent and property damages.

The Commission ruled that under Section 8-212.1 of the State Code, if a tenant receives assignment to active duty and exercises his or her right to terminate the lease early, the co-tenant may also terminate the lease early under the same law.  Therefore, the Complainants could both terminate the lease on 30 days notice and not be liable for rent due after that date.  In this case, because notice was given March 3, the lease was legally terminated April 2, and the Complainants owed an additional 2 days rent after March 31, or, $131.  Therefore the Respondents had no right to withhold from the security deposit any rent charges in excess of $131.  In addition, the Respondents failed to return the deposit, or to provide an itemization of deductions from it, within the 45 days after the Complainants vacated the premises, and therefore the Respondents could not withhold any charges for property damages.  The Commission ordered the Respondents to refund the sum of $2,788 to the Complainants.

(Editor’s Note:  Effective January 1, 2004, a Federal Military Termination law went into effect which slightly modifies the Maryland law by requiring military personnel to give 30 days written notice effective on the next rent due date.  50 U.S.C. App. 521.  However, the Landlord might be bound by language already in the lease that permits the tenant to terminate with less notice.)


Arrow, up icon Allen vs. Bibb and Hayes, Hayes Real Estate, Inc.

Case #  24967
Date Order Issued  January 5, 2004
Subject  Security Deposit

On March 18, 2003, Elfrieda Allen (the “Complainant”) former tenant at 19018 Stedwick Drive, Montgomery Village, Maryland 20886 (the “Property”), filed a complaint with the Department in which she alleged that: 1) she did not damage the Property in excess of ordinary wear and tear; (2) William Bibb, owner of the Property, and Charles Hayes, Hayes Real Estate Inc., agent for the owner (collectively hereinafter referred to as the “Respondents”) charged her for damage that she did not cause or damages that were the Respondents’ obligation to repair and maintain; (3) the Respondents failed to deliver the carpeting in the Property to her at the commencement of her tenancy in a clean and sanitary condition; and, (4) the Respondents refused to reimburse her $200.00 which was the cost she incurred to dry and clean the carpet.  The Complainant amended her original complaint to request that the Commission award her three times the amount withheld from her security deposit as a penalty for the Respondents’ unreasonable withholding of that amount.

The Respondents contended that: (1) the Complainant damaged the Property in excess of ordinary wear and tear; (2) they incurred actual cost to make those repairs; and (3) they did not agree to reimburse the Complainant for the cost she incurred to clean the carpet.

A public hearing commenced on September 17, 2003, and was continued until November 5, 2003, and concluded on that date.  Commissioner Lyana Palmer was absent, but the Complainant and the Respondents chose to proceed with the hearing with Panel Members, Tim Gillespie and Jay Krampf, with Jay Krampf acting as Panel Chairperson.  The Commission determined to leave the record of these hearings open for two weeks until November 19, 2003, to allow the Respondents the opportunity to submit copies of cancelled checks, invoices and communications related to the deductions made from the Complainant’s security deposit.  Before the record of these hearings closed, Respondent Hayes submitted to the Commission photocopies of the following four cancelled checks and explanations:  The record of these hearings closed on November 11, 2003.  The Commission extended the time period within which it would decide this matter.

The Commission found that: (1) the Respondents failed to deliver the carpets in the Property to the Complainant, at the commencement of her tenancy, in a clean and sanitary condition, and also failed to clean them after being instructed to do so by the Departments’ Housing Code Enforcement Section; (2) the Complainant incurred actual costs of $200.00 to clean the carpet and therefore, the Respondents are liable to the Complainant for $200.00; (3) the Respondents were within their right to withhold from the Complainant’s security deposit the cost incurred to pay the final WSSC bill ($169.96), to repaint damaged or dirty walls ($300.00), to replace a broken storm window in the garage ($125.00); to replace eight burned-out light bulbs ($30.00); and to repair a bent water line in the garage ($75.00), for a total of $699.96; (4) the Respondents’ assessment against the Complainant’s security deposit for a portion of the WSSC bill that was not the Complainant’s responsibility ($111.23); for a missing garage door opener that was never given to the Complainant ($45.00); and for damage that was not in excess of ordinary wear and tear and/or for which no cost was incurred — $45.00 to repair handrail, $50.00 to repair a torn screen, $35.00 to repair the countertop, $75.00 for trash removal, and $80.00 for leaf raking — for a total of $441.23 is disallowed; and (5) the Respondents owe the Complainant the undisputed amount of the security deposit, in the amount of $106.81; and, (6) the Respondents failed to properly handle and dispose of the Complainant’s security deposit plus accrued interest.

Although the Commission concluded that the Respondents wrongfully withheld $441.23 from the Complainant’s security deposit, the Respondents’ actions did not rise to the level of bad faith or egregiousness that would warrant the awarding of a penalty.  Therefore, the Complainant’s request for a penalty is denied.  However, the Commission cautioned Hayes Real Estate, Inc. that it is concerned about its lack of attention to detail that is apparent from the withholding for a garage door opener that was never issued to the Complainant and for a greater amount than the total of the WSSC bill.  Accordingly, the Commission urged Hayes Real Estate, Inc. to modify its business practices because such behavior in future cases lead to the imposition of a penalty.

The Commission On Landlord-Tenant Affairs ordered the Respondents to pay the Complainant $748.04, which sum represents her security deposit ($1,200.00) plus accrued interest ($48.00), plus reimbursement of $200.00 for carpet cleaning, less damages and costs properly withheld ($699.96).

The foregoing Decision was concurred in unanimously by Commissioner Tim Gillespie and Commissioner Jay Krampf, Panel Chairperson.  Commissioner Lyana Palmer did not participate in deliberations or vote on this case.


Arrow, up icon Murray vs. Conerly and Charles Hayes, Hayes Real Estate, Inc.

Case #  24684
Date Order Issued  May 20, 2003
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On September 24, 2002, Frances (nee Haaser) Murray (the “Complainant”) filed a formal complaint in which she alleged that Porter and Virginia Conerly (the “Respondents”), owners of the Property, and Respondents’ agent, Charles Hayes, Hayes Real Estate, Inc. (“Respondents’ Agent): assessed unjust damages against her $700.00 security deposit plus $112.00 accrued interest after the termination of her tenancy; and (2) failed to honor an agreement to reimburse her for plumbing repairs she made to the Property and for the purchase of a new refrigerator.

The Tenant specifically asserts:  1) she did not damage the Property in excess of ordinary wear and tear during her tenancy; (2) the costs assessed against her security deposit were to repair damages that were either pre-existing and caused by the previous tenant who had pets, or were caused by a leaking roof that damaged the carpet; (3) during her tenancy she paid for plumbing repairs, in the amount of $350.00, that were not her responsibility, and the Respondents’ Agent failed to reimburse her for those expenses after agreeing to do so; and (4) the Respondents’ Agent failed to replace a defective refrigerator in the Property, and refused to reimburse her for the cost she incurred, $557.85, to purchase a new one.  The Complainant does not dispute that she owes pro rata rent for the period of August 1-9, 2002.

The Complainant is seeking an Order from the Commission for the Respondents to refund her security deposit ($700.00) plus accrued interest ($112.00), less pro rata rent for the period August 1 – 9, 2002 ($169.19), and to reimburse her for plumbing repairs ($350.00) and the cost she incurred to purchase a new refrigerator ($557.85), for a total award of $1,550.66.

The Respondents and/or Respondents’ Agent contend that: (1) the Complainant held-over in the Property from August 1, 2002 through August 9, 2002, and failed to pay rent for that period of time; (2) the Complainant damaged the Property in excess of ordinary wear and tear during her tenancy; (3) they incurred actual expense to repair damage that exceeded the amount of the Complainant’s security deposit plus accrued interest; and (4) they never agreed to reimburse the Complainant for the cost she incurred to replace the refrigerator.  However, the Respondents and/or Respondents’ Agent concede that the Complainant is entitled to a credit of $350.00 for the cost she incurred to make plumbing repairs to the Property during her tenancy.

After holding a public hearing on March 19, 2003, the Commission ordered the Respondents pay the Complainant $1,250.66, which sum represents the Complainant’s security deposit ($700.00), plus accrued interest ($112.00), less pro rata August 2002 rent ($169.19), and repair costs properly withheld ($300.00) plus reimbursement for plumbing repairs ($350.00), and reimbursement for the purchase of new refrigerator ($557.85).[1]

The foregoing decision was concurred in by Commissioner Lyana Palmer and Commissioner Mattie Ligon, Panel Chairperson. Commissioner Christopher Toven dissented.

[1] The Commission is troubled by the testimony of Respondents’ Agent at the hearing that he informed the Complainant that, “We’ve had a lot of difficulty with having the inspectors from this department here.  There are quite a few.  And it is true what I told you [Complainant] that when many, many repairs have to happen to a house, and we just already told you the house was not in perfect condition, that the rent would go up.”  (See Transcript at page 96, lines 20-25).  Furthermore, in response to Complainant’s question, “Do you recall telling me in any phone call not to let him [the Department’s Inspector] in,” that Respondents’ Agent answered “Yes.”  Not only did Respondents’ Agent fail to make needed and necessary repairs to the Property after being put on notice by the Complainant, which was his obligation pursuant to Paragraph 9, “Maintenance,” of the Lease and Section 29-30, “Obligations of landlords,” of the County Code, but his statement to the Complainant threatening to raise her rent if she allowed access to the Property by the Department’s Housing Code Enforcement Inspector was retaliatory, and his actions constitute a serious violation of Section 29-32, “Prohibited practices,” of the County Code.

Tenants in Montgomery County are guaranteed the right to complain to their landlords or the Department about defects in rental properties and to request that those defects be repaired in a timely manner without fear of retaliation, including a threat to increase the rent based on such reporting.  Furthermore, it is not only the obligation of tenants under the terms of the lease to report defects to their landlords, but it is in the landlord’s best business interest that such defects are reported to prevent deterioration of the rental property.

The Respondents and Respondents’ Agent are hereby notified that it is a serious violation of Chapter 29 of the County Code to advise a tenant not to allow access to rental property by the Department’s inspectors, or to attempt to coerce a tenant, under threat of a rent increase, not to allow such inspections, and that any such future violation may result in the immediate revocation of the Rental Facility License(s) for any and all rental properties owned, operated or managed by the Respondents and/or Respondents’ Agent in Montgomery County, Maryland.


Arrow, up icon Nadler vs. Hyder, and Marydale Realty Management, Inc.

Case #  24538
Date Order Issued  April 30, 2003
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On July 1, 2002, Andrew and Gayle Nadler (the “Complainants”) filed a formal complaint in which they alleged that Arthur and Patricia Hyder (the “Respondents”), and Mary Vaarwerk, President, Marydale Realty Management, Inc., (“Respondents’ Agent”), management agent for the Respondents:  (1) failed to refund any portion of their $2,100.00 security deposit plus $126.00 accrued interest within forty-five (45) days after the termination of their tenancy and (2) assessed unjust charges against their security deposit after the termination of their tenancy.  The Complainants were seeking an Order from the Commission for the Respondents to: (1) refund their entire $2,100.00 security deposit plus $126.00 accrued interest; (2) reimburse them for the cost they incurred to have to Property cleaned, $60.00, and to clean the carpets, $309.91, at the commencement of their tenancy; (3) reimburse them for the amount they were assessed to make plumbing repairs to the Property, which sum is $399.00; (4) based on the improper notice of rent increase, refund the overpayment of rent they paid to the Respondents for ten (10) months, which sum is $2,000.00; and (5) based on the Respondents’ unreasonable withholding of their entire security deposit plus accrued interest, the assessment of a threefold penalty of the withheld amount, which sum is $6,678.00, for a total award of $11,672.91.

The Respondents and/or Respondents’ Agent asserted that:  (1) the Property was delivered to the Complainants at the commencement of their tenancy in a clean and sanitary condition, including the carpets; (2) during their tenancy, Complainants were only assessed the cost of plumbing repairs which were Complainants’ responsibility; (3) the Complainants failed to issue proper written notice of their intention to vacate the Property as required by Paragraph 22a of the lease agreement, and therefore, the Complainants are liable for May 2002 rent in the amount of $2,200.00, plus a $110.00 late fee; and (4) the Property was damaged in excess of ordinary wear and tear by the Complainants, and they incurred actual expense to repair that damage, $25.00 to cut the grass and $15.00 to remove glue from the kitchen countertop.

After holding a public hearing on February 24, 2003, the Commission ordered the Respondents and/or Respondents’ Agent to pay the Complainants $2,338.25, which sum represents the Complainants’ security deposit ($2,100.00) plus accrued interest ($126.00), plus a refund for bathroom caulking ($134.00), plus a refund of the improper late fee ($18.25), less the amount rightfully withheld from the security deposit ($40.00).

The Commission notes its concern that Respondents’ Agent failed to fully participate in the investigation of this matter by not providing requested documents to the Department prior to the hearing, as required by Section 29-5(c) of the County Code, and cautioned Respondents and Respondents’ Agent against engaging in such behavior in the future.


Arrow, up icon Henningsen vs. Schappell

Case #  24442
Date Order Issued  April 17, 2003
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On May 14, 2002, Christian and Patricia Henningsen (the “Complainants”), filed a formal complaint in which they alleged that Danny Schappell (the “Respondent”), owner of the Property, had them sign a lease agreement for the rental of the Property that: (1) allowed the Respondent to charge a late fee after the rent was five (5) days late; (2) provided for a 10% late fee which they allege they paid on several occasions; (3) reduced the amount of interest to accrue on their security deposit from 4% to 3%; and (4) provided for the assessment of $75.00 for each maintenance repair to the Property, all these provisions unenforceable because they contradict State and County statutes.

The Complainants also asserted that: (1) the water heater in the Property was defective and had ceased to operate; (2) the Respondent gave them oral permission to paint the Property any color they desired; (3) the carpet was damaged by water that seeped into the house due to the Respondent’s failure to put gutters on the house; and (4) the costs assessed against their security deposit were to repair damages that existed prior to the commencement of their tenancy.  The Complainants amended their original complaint to also allege that the Respondent failed to refund any portion of their $915.00 security deposit plus six (6) years accrued interest.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission concluded:  (1) the Respondent altered the Leases by changing the date late payments would be charged from ten (10) days to five (5) days in violation of Section 29-27(i) of the County Code.  However, the Complainants failed to demonstrate that they ever paid an improper late fee to the Respondent at any time during their tenancy; (2)  the Respondent altered the Leases by increasing the amount due from Complainants for each repair from $50.00 to $75.00 in violation of Section 29-30(a)(3) of the County Code.  However, the Complainants failed to demonstrate that they ever paid an improper maintenance fee to the Respondent at any time during their tenancy; (3)  the Respondent altered the Leases by reducing the interest on the security deposit from 4% to 3% in violation of § 8-203(e)(1) of the State Code; (4)  The Respondent did not alter the Leases to change the amount of a late fee from 5% to 10% as alleged by the Complainants, and the Complainants failed to demonstrate that they ever paid an improper late fee to the Respondent at any time during their tenancy;  (5)  the Complainants violated Paragraph 9, “Maintenance,” of the Leases by repainting several rooms in the Property during their tenancy without the Respondent’s knowledge or permission; and, (6)  the Complainants violated Paragraph 9, “Maintenance,” of the Leases by failing to report at least three plumbing problems to the Respondent during their tenancy, which resulted in damage to the Property.

The cost incurred by the Respondent to repair damages caused to the Property by the Complainants was in excess of ordinary wear and tear and exceeded the full amount of the Complainants’ security deposit plus accrued interest.  Therefore, the Complainants’ request for a refund of their $915.00 security deposit plus $219.60 in accrued interest is DENIED.

In addition, the Commission ordered that the Respondent must notify all tenants in rental properties he owns, operates or manages in Montgomery County, Maryland that:

Pursuant to Section 29-27(i) of the County Code, late fees cannot be assessed until the rent is at least 10 days late, not 5 days as stated in their lease;

Pursuant § 8-203(e) of the State Code, interest on their security deposit accrues at a rate of from 4% per annum, not 3% as stated in their lease;

Pursuant to Section 29-30(a)(3) of the County Code, that if they fail to perform required maintenance, they may be charged $50.00 for the actual cost incurred per maintenance item, not $75.00 as stated in their lease; and,

If they believe that they have paid any improper late fees or maintenance fees, they can file a complaint with the Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs, 100 Maryland Avenue, 4th Floor, Rockville, Maryland 20850.

Respondent must provide the Department with copies of all such notices sent to his tenants.


Arrow, up icon Garcia and Barreto vs. Kushawaha

Case #  13290
Dater Order Issued  February 27, 2003
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On March 28, 2002, Xavier Garcia and Jennifer Barreto (“Tenants”), filed a complaint in which they alleged that Vikram and Vijay Bala Kushawaha (“Landlords”), without a reasonable basis, failed to return any portion of their $1,275.00 security deposit plus $76.50 accrued interest within 45 days after the termination of their tenancy, in violation of § 8-203 (e)(1) of the Real Property Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, 1999, as amended (“State Code”).  At the public hearing, the Tenants requested that the Commission award them three times the amount of their security deposit as a penalty based on the Landlords’ unreasonable withholding of their entire security deposit.

On October 10, 2002, the Landlords filed a cross-complaint against the Tenants in which they asserted that, in addition to the Tenants’ entire security deposit, they were also entitled to an extra $706.00 in damages caused by the Tenants.  Based on the fact that the Landlords’ claim was predicated on the identical set of facts as raised by the Tenants, the Commission consolidated the Landlords’ and Tenants’ claims and heard both matters at a hearing on December 12, 2002.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that: (1) the Landlords failed to send the Tenants an itemized list of damages together with a statement of actual costs incurred within 45 days after the termination of their tenancy, to the Tenants’ last known address, in violation of §8-203 (g)(1) State Code, and as a result, the Landlords forfeited their right to withhold any portion of the Tenants’ deposit for damages; (2) although the Landlords forfeited their right to withhold any portion of the security deposit for physical damage caused to the Property by the Tenants in excess of ordinary wear and tear, the Landlords did not forfeit their right to withhold from the deposit unpaid rent ($253.18), a return check fee ($25.00) and an unpaid water bill ($269.00) which were the Tenants’ obligation to pay under the lease; (3) the Tenants damaged the property in excess of ordinary wear and tear only in the amount of $87.00; (4) the remaining damage claims by the Landlords were unsupported and without merit and therefore, their cross-complaint was dismissed with prejudice; (5) the Landlords’ failure to repair the Tenants’ water heater in a timely fashion constituted a substantial breach of the lease and reduced the value of the Tenants’ leasehold by 15% during the month of November 2001, which the Commission determined to be $206.25; and (6) although the Landlords violated § 8-203 of the State Code, their conduct did not rise to the level of egregiousness or bad faith necessary to warrant the award of a penalty, and therefore, the Tenants’ request for a penalty was denied.

The Commission ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenants $1,010.57, which sum represents the Tenants’ entire security deposit ($1,275.00) plus accrued interest ($76.50), less unpaid rent ($253.18), a return check fee ($25.00) and an unpaid water bill ($269.00), plus a rent refund in the amount of $206.25 based on the Landlords’ failure to repair the water heater in a timely manner.


Arrow, up icon Tucker and Gray-Tucker vs. Koenick

Case #  12738
Date Order Issued  October 11, 2002
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On January 9, 2002, Stacy Tucker and Janice Gray-Tucker (Tenants), filed a complaint in which they alleged that Judith Koenick (Landlord): (1) without a reasonable basis, failed to return $1,800.00 of their security deposit plus accrued interest within 45 days after the termination of their tenancy, in violation of § 8-203 (e)(1) of the Real Property Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, 1999, as amended (“State Code”); (2) failed to send them an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs actually incurred to repair that damage within forty-five (45) days after the termination of their tenancy, in violation of  § 8-203 (g)(1) of the State Code; (3) assessed unjust charges against their security deposit after the termination of their tenancy, in violation of § 8-203 (f)(1) of the State Code; and (4) failed to credit their security deposit with $120.00 in interest, in violation of § 8-203 (e)(1) of the State Code. In addition, the Tenants were seeking an award of treble damage due to the wrongful withholding of their security deposit plus interest by the Landlord.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that: (1) the Tenants did not damage the Property in excess of ordinary wear and tear; (2) the Landlord did not provide the Tenants an itemized list of damages within forty-five days after the termination of their tenancy; (3) the Landlord’s failure to send the Tenants an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs actually incurred within forty-five days has caused a defective tenancy; (4) the Landlord’s assessment of damages against the Tenants for damage that was not in excess of ordinary wear and tear, in violation of § 8-203 (f)(1) of the State Code caused a defective tenancy; (5) the Landlord’s failure to credit the Tenants’ security deposit with accrued interest, in violation of § 8-203 (e)(1) of the State Code makes the Landlord subject to a potential penalty of three times the withheld amount; and (7) although the Landlord violated the provisions of § 8-203 of the State Code, she has no prior history of wrongful withholding of security deposits and her behavior was not egregious or in bad faith; therefore the Tenants’ request for a threefold penalty was denied.

The Commission ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenants $1,920.00. This amount represents the remainder of the Tenants’ security deposit ($1,800.00) plus accrued interest ($120.00).


Arrow, up icon Waters-Sherrod vs. Kushawaha

Case #  11783
Date Order Issued  August 12, 2002
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that:  (1) the Tenant damaged the Property in excess of ordinary wear and tear and failed to pay the final water bill; (2) the Landlords did present a written list of damages claimed against the security deposit to the Tenant within 45 days after the termination of the tenancy, in compliance with § 8-203(g)(1) of the State Code; (3) the correct amount of interest is $52.00, not the $60.70 credited by the Landlords; (4) Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC), not the Tenant, paid the monthly rent and any claim for a refund of rent must be filed by HOC; (5) the judgment the Landlords were awarded in a Tenant Holding Over suit from the District Court of Maryland contained an inappropriate award of legal fees and the $80.00 charge for attorney’s fees violates Chapter 29-26(o) of the County Code as it read prior to April 1, 2001, before amendment; (6) lease provisions regarding Tenant paying additional rent and attorney’s fees violates Chapter 29-27(m) of the County Code; and (7) the Landlord did not unreasonably or wrongfully withhold any portion of the Tenant’s security deposit plus interest.

The Tenant’s request for a threefold penalty was denied.  Any future claim by the Landlords against the Tenant arising from and out of her tenancy is limited to $5.55, the total amount of damages that exceeded the amount of the security deposit plus interest.

The Landlords must immediately and hereafter fully comply with any and all notices of violation issued by the Department or HOC.  For the next two years the Landlords, prior to use or issuance, must submit all lease agreements, notices to vacate and security deposit dispositions for all rental facilities they own within Montgomery County to the Department for review and approval.


Arrow, up icon Finau, et al. vs. Hoage, et al.

Case #  11957
Date Order Issued  April 12, 2002
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On September 14, 2001, Sione and Nadine Finau and John and Betty Crotty (the “Tenants”), former tenants at 10803 Stella Court, Kensington, Maryland (the “Property”), filed a formal complaint with the Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs in which they alleged that Rose A. Hoage (the “Landlord”), owner of the Property, assessed unjust damages, in the amount of $761.99, against their $1,990.00 security deposit after the termination of their tenancy, in violation of  § 8-203 (f)(1)(i) of the Real Property Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, 1999, as amended (“State Code”).  The Landlord contended that: (1) the Tenants damaged the Property in excess of ordinary wear and tear during their tenancy; (2) the charge for one-half month’s rent was based on the Tenants’ refusal to allow them to show the Property to prospective new tenants; and (3) all of the damage deductions made from the Tenants’ security deposit were justifiable.   Subsequently, the Tenants amended their complaint to request an award three times the amount withheld from their security deposit, based on the Landlord’s unreasonable assessment of damages.

After determining that the complaint was not susceptible to conciliation, the Commission scheduled a public hearing for February 11, 2002.  However, based on a request by the Landlord, the public hearing was postponed, and a new hearing date was set for March 7, 2002.  The public hearing commenced on March 7, 2002, and concluded on that date.  Although she received proper notice of the hearing time and date, the Landlord failed to appear at the hearing, and no one else appeared on her behalf.

On April 12, 2002, the Commission issued its Decision and Order in which it determined that:  (1) the Tenants issued proper written notice to the Landlord of their intention to vacate the Property; (2) the Tenants vacated the Property on July 21, 2001, having paid rent in full to the Landlord through July 31, 2001, and returned the Property keys to the Landlord on July 22, 2001; (3) the Tenants did not unreasonably deny access to the Landlord during normal business hours to show the Property to prospective new tenants; (4) the Tenants did not damage the Property in excess of ordinary wear and tear as a result of their tenancy, and they left it in a clean and sanitary condition at the time they vacated; (5) a final walkthrough inspection of the Property was conducted on August 2, 2001, at which time the Landlord did not advise the Tenants of any damage in the Property, other than the gutters might need cleaning; (6) the Landlord overpaid the Tenants interest on their security deposit in the amount of $10.61; (7) the withholding of $716.38 from the Tenants’ security deposit when no damages beyond normal wear and tear had been caused to the Property and no breach of lease had occurred, constituted a violation of § 8-203(f)(1) and (2) of the State Code, and had caused a defective tenancy; and (8) the Landlord’s withholding of $716.38 from the Tenants’ security deposit was willful, egregious, unreasonable and in bad faith, and therefore, pursuant to § 8-203(e)(4) of the State Code, the Landlord was liable for a penalty of up to threefold the withheld amount of the security deposit.

The Commission ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenants $2,149.14, which sum represents three times the amount that was improperly and unreasonably withheld by her from the Tenants’ security deposit.


Arrow, up icon Prakash and Richman vs. Burkett

Case #  10591
Date Order Issued  July 30, 2001
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On September 7, 2000, Dave Prakash and Naomi Richman (Tenants), filed a complaint in which they alleged that John Burkett (Landlord): (1) failed to deliver the property at the commencement of the tenancy, in clean, safe and sanitary condition; (2) charged them a security deposit in excess of two months' rent; (3) misrepresented his intention to live at the property at the commencement of the tenancy; and (4) failed to return any portion of their security deposit within 45 days after the termination of their tenancy.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that: (1) the Landlord's failure to present the property at the commencement of the tenancy, in clean, safe and sanitary condition constitutes a substantial breach of the lease agreement and created a defective tenancy; (2) the Landlord only charged the Tenants a security deposit of $2,600.00, the equivalent of two months' rent, which is not a violation of the law; (3) there was not sufficient evidence or testimony regarding the Landlord's occupancy of a basement apartment at the property so no findings are made regarding this allegation; and (4) the Landlord failed to handle and dispose of the security deposit in accordance with the law caused a defective tenancy.

Accordingly, the Commission ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenant $2,600.00 which sum represents the Tenants' security deposit.  Since the tenancy lasted only one month, no interest was accrued.


Arrow, up icon Harris and Linderman vs. Ross

Case #  10609
Date Order Issued  July 24, 2001
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On September 14, 2000, Oliver Harris and Laura Linderman (Tenants), filed a complaint in which they alleged that Dale and Patti Ross (Landlords): (1) unreasonably withheld $500.00 from their security deposit after the termination of their tenancy and (2) failed to issue them an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs actually incurred, within 45 days after the termination of their tenancy.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that the Landlords did send the Tenants an itemized list of damages within 45 days as required by State law.  However, the Commission found that the Landlords assessed charges in the amount of $500.00 against the Tenants' security deposit for cleaning and yard work that was not beyond normal wear and tear.  Therefore, this charge of $500.00 was not justified.

Accordingly, the Commission ordered the Landlords to pay the Tenants $500.00, which sum represents the Tenants' security deposit ($1,400.00 plus $56.00 accrued interest less $956.00 already refunded).


Arrow, up icon Gerdes and Larsen vs. Bell

Case #  10754
Date Order Issued  April 23, 2001
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On November 20, 2000, Michael Gerdes and Melinda Larsen (Tenants), filed a complaint in which they alleged that John Bell, Esquire, (Landlord): (1) failed to conduct a final walkthrough inspection at the termination of their tenancy; (2) assessed unjust damages against their security deposit plus accrued interest, after the termination of their tenancy; and (3) failed to send them an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs incurred within 45days after the termination of their tenancy.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that:

The Landlord failed to issue the Tenants an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs actually incurred within 45 days after the termination of their tenancy.  The Landlord failed to credit the Tenants' security deposit with accrued interest on the security deposit.  The Landlord, without a legal or factual basis, charged the Tenants for repairs that were not in excess of ordinary wear and tear.   As a result of the Landlord's failure to send the Tenant an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs actually incurred, the Landlord forfeited the right to withhold any of the Tenants' security deposit plus accrued interest.  The Commission also found that the Landlord's withholding of the Tenants' security deposit was willful, unreasonable and egregious.

Accordingly, the Commission ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenant $1,820.-- which sum represents the Tenants' security deposit ($875.00) plus accrued interest ($35.00), plus a $910 penalty.


Arrow, up icon Randall vs. Murray

Case #  10585
Date Order Issued  April 3, 2001
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On August 17, 2000, Bryan and Lisa Randall (Tenant), filed a complaint in which they alleged that Leroy and Mae Murray (Landlord): (1) assessed unjust damages against their security deposit plus accrued interest, after the termination of their tenancy; and (2) failed to send them an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs incurred within 45 days after the termination of their tenancy.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that:

The Landlord failed to issue the Tenant an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs actually incurred within 45 days after the termination of their tenancy. The Landlord failed to credit the Tenant’s security deposit with accrued interest of $87.00. The Landlord, without a legal or factual basis, charged the Tenant for repairs in the amount of $967.05. As a result of the Landlord’s failure to send the Tenant an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs actually incurred, the Landlord forfeited the right to withhold any of the Tenant’s security deposit plus accrued interest. The Commission also found that the Landlord’s withholding of $967.05 from the Tenant’s security deposit was without reasonable basis, explanation or excuse.

Accordingly, the Commission ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenant $1,937.00 which sum represents the Tenant’s security deposit ($1,450.00) plus accrued interest ($87.00), plus a $400.00 penalty.


Arrow, up icon Rodriguez vs. Edwards

Case #  10383
Date Order Issued  March 26, 2001
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On April 14, 2000, Eddy and Yorlenny Rodriguez (Tenants), filed a complaint in which they alleged that Donald B. Edwards (Landlord): (1) assessed unjust damages against their security deposit plus accrued interest in the amount of $1,466.42, after the termination of her tenancy; (2) failed to pay them the interest that had accrued on their security deposit; and (3) failed to send them an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs incurred within 30 days after the termination of their tenancy.

After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that:

The Landlord did return the Tenant’s accrued interest of $228.00 on October 31, 2000; the Landlord, without a reasonable basis, charged the Tenants $1,466.42 for the replacement of the exterior HVAC unit; and the Landlord failed to send the Tenants an itemized list of damages together with a statement of costs incurred within 30 days after the termination of their tenancy. The Commission also found that the Landlord’s withholding of $1,466.42 from the Tenants’ security deposit was willful, unreasonable and egregious.

Accordingly, the Commission ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenant $3,122.69 which sum represents the Tenant’s security deposit ($3,100.00) less the amount previously refunded ($1,443.73), which equals $1,656.27, plus a one-fold penalty of $1,466.42, the amount unreasonably withheld by the Landlord for repair of the HVAC unit.


Arrow, up icon Odom vs. Morris

Case #  10126
Date Order Issued  March 15, 2001
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On November 18, 1999, Estelle Terese Odom (Tenant), filed a complaint in which she alleged that Brenda Morris (Landlord) failed to return her security deposit ($260.00) plus accrued interest within 45 days after the termination of her tenancy.  After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that:

After the Department investigated the Tenant's complaint, the Landlord returned the Tenant’s security deposit of $260.00 on October 24, 2000, but failed to return the accrued interest. The Landlord owes the Tenant $57.20 in accrued interest, calculated from the date the Landlord received the security deposit (01/01/1995) through the date the security deposit was returned (10/24/2000). The Commission found that the Landlord's failure to return this $57.20 was unreasonable.

Accordingly, the Commission ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenant $228.80 which sum represents the accrued interest on the Tenant’s security deposit ($57.20) plus a three-fold penalty of $171.60. The Commission also ordered the Landlord to submit a Rental Facility License application along with all required fees within 15 days of the date of receipt of this order.


Arrow, up icon Mullin vs. Schafer-Swarm

Case #  10283
Date Order Issued  February 27, 2001
Subject  Security Deposit

Summary
On January 21, 2000, Jerome J. Mullin (Tenant), filed a complaint in which he alleged that Robin Schafer-Swarm (Landlord) assessed unjust charges against his security deposit after the termination of his tenancy and failed to pay him interest on his security deposit.  After holding a public hearing, the Commission found that:

The Landlord assessed unjust charges against the Tenant's security deposit in the amount of $460.36 after the termination of his tenancy.  The Commission found that the Landlord's failure to return this $460.36 was unreasonable.  In addition, the commission also found that the landlord's failure to pay accrued interest on the security deposit ($76.50) was also unreasonable.

Accordingly, the Commission ordered the Landlord to pay the Tenant $1,073.72 which sum represents that portion of the tenant's security deposit plus accrued interest that was unjustly withheld ($536.86) plus a one fold penalty of $536.86.