My former renter had a lease thru May 15. He moved out on April 1. Based upon retaining the security deposit that he paid, I agreed to let him out of the lease. I procured a new renter that moved in May 1. After "poking around the neighborhood" and asking neighbors, he learned that I had a new tenant and now is demanding he receive his security deposit back. I thought that the security deposit was to cover damages and was forfeited at the time of breaking a lease. Please help!
Sounds like you have a fun one there. I typically try very hard to give concise answers but in your case, that may not be possible. It really depends on how you answer the following:
You said "based upon retaining the security deposit that he paid, I agreed to let him out of the lease". Was that your assumption or did you have something in writing that specified this? If you have something in writing, you should be good to go. If not, he may decide to take you to court to retrieve his deposit. Oral contracts are legal in Virginia but almost impossible to prove.
As to the second part of your question, I am not certain what your lease specifies with regards to the deposit itself. If your lease says that security deposit is to cover damages and is forfeited at the time of breaking the lease, then yes, you are correct. You will need to look that over carefully. Typically, the security deposit is returned to a tenant after a walk through less any wear and tear considered above normal unless stated otherwise. It all depends on what your lease says specifically.
Hopefully, that will help. Re read your lease as it pertains to the deposit. It should be very specific. Not that it helps now, but in the future be very detailed regarding any monies involved. You may even want to consider an amendment to your new lease to make sure you do not have this issue again in the future.
To be honest, I would have charged him for May 1-15th as well if his deposit was only one month's rent. You are very nice. No good deed, right?

Posted By: Don Pegram on Tuesday, June 08, 2010