You have been living in the apartments, Crump Cowers, for about a year. You paid a refundable deposit of $1,500 when you moved in. You always pay your rent on time—you are a model tenant.
Your lease terminates at the end of the month. You like Crump Cowers, but feel that the décor is a little gaudy, and your commute to work is too long. After shopping around, you find a new apartment, at a placed called Ernie Sands. The Ernie Sands apartment has vaulted ceilings and is closer to work. You sign a lease for Ernie Sands and prepare to move.
You pack up all of your things and move them out of Crump Cowers. You clean the Crump Cowers apartment so well that it shines. Then you move out.
A couple weeks later, you realize that Crump Cowers never returned the $1,500 deposit that you gave them. You want your deposit back. What should you do!?
The first step is to wait. Landlords have thirty days from the day that a tenant vacates to deliver to the tenant the balance of any deposit and “a written notice that itemizes and explains the reason for each deduction.” Utah Code Ann. § 57-17-3(2) (2015).
Second, if after waiting thirty days, you have not received the deposit, then you should send a notice to the landlord. The notice must comply with requirements of Utah Code Annotated § 57-17-3. The notice should tell the landlord that he has five days to return the remainder of your deposit, along with a written itemization of deductions. If the landlord does not comply in five days, you are entitled to court costs and attorney fees incurred to collect the deposit in court.
Third, if the landlord still refuses to return your deposit, or refunds less than you think is fair, then you should file a complaint in court.
Crump Cowers must refund all of your deposit, less any rent owed, cost of damages to the premises beyond reasonable wear and tear, other costs and fees provided for in the contract, and cost of cleaning of the unit. If your landlord does not deal fairly with you and you have to go to court to force him to pay, then there is a fairly good chance that the landlord will have to pay for your attorney fees.
For help obtaining your rental deposit call Hepworth, Murray & Associates. Our attorneys can help vindicate your rights.