should I call my old landlord about my security deposit?
December 19, 2012 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Is it worth trying to get my security deposit back?

I never got my security deposit back from my landlord when I moved out of my last apartment in the summer of 2011, nor did I receive (as Missouri law apparently demands) any sort of written notice as to why I didn't receive it. For various stupid reasons I have yet to attempt to contact my former landlord about this. Missouri landlord-tenant law doesn't seem to say anything about a statute of limitations on this -- is it worth returning to? I could certainly use the money, but if my chances of recovering it are low to nonexistent then obviously I value the time more.
posted by invitapriore to Law & Government (12 answers total)
It doesn't take much time to write your landlord a letter asking for the deposit back.
posted by bq at 1:10 PM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Asking is worth it when not asking is a guarantee you won't get what you feel you're entitled to.

So don't allow yourself any more excuses or stupid reasons not to ask. It could very well be that there is an administrative backlog or messup at the management office. It happens.

But ask. It won't cost you a dime to do it initially. Then you can make an informed decision on what to do from there.
posted by inturnaround at 1:10 PM on December 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

"Dear landlord, I haven't received my deposit of $N from you for the apartment I rented from date X to date Y. Could you please send the deposit to me at this address?

Sincerely, etc."

Write that and send it certified, today. It's cheap and takes 5 minutes.
posted by zippy at 1:13 PM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Send your letter certified mail.
posted by HuronBob at 1:14 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yup, certified mail demand letter.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:18 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

It looks like this might be the relevant statute... It doesn't say anything about a statute of limitations, but you might be able to find out from the State Attorney General (obviously worth writing to the landlord even if the period has passed...)
posted by three_red_balloons at 1:29 PM on December 19, 2012

Please send the letter certified and return receipt!

Make sure you include your current address.

Do NOT explain or clarify about your delay in asking. Just make the request as per the script provided by zippy.

Is there a state or local landlord tenant hotline?

- You want to call and clarify what your next step is if landlord ignores you.
- You need to clarify if there is a penalty to be added to your deposit. In CA it kicks in after 21 Days.
- You need to know what to do if the landlord provides you with bogus receipts that eat up your entire deposit. Do you have pictures of your old apartment after moving out? Did you do a walk-through with the owner or manager? Did they sign off that the place was left clean and undamaged??

Lastly, what kind of landlord was this? Corporate, or a mom & pop outfit?

If corporate, you can likely get your deposit back with appropriate legal threats in writing. Do pursue penalties you are owed if Missouri law allows for this by stating the request for extra money and citing the law in your demand letter you'll be sending.

If this is a small outfit, think about small claims court.

PS - do you have a copy of the letter or email you sent with your 30 Day Notice? Did it include your fowarding address??

If they had your fowarding address and did not send you back your deposit, then YES, this is worth pursuing!
posted by jbenben at 1:32 PM on December 19, 2012

Also, it looks like in MO small claims court (which hears disputes about the return of security deposits), the statute of limitations is five years.
posted by three_red_balloons at 1:36 PM on December 19, 2012

jbenben, it's a mom and pop-type deal. I did not have the presence of mind to give my thirty days' notice in writing. I did it over the phone, though I did give him my new address.
posted by invitapriore at 1:48 PM on December 19, 2012

First, just ask them for the security deposit. If they refuse, then send a certified letter:

Dear Landlord,

On XX/XX/XXXX, I vacated the premises at XX Whatever Street, thus terminating my tenancy.

Pursuant to Missouri Revised Statutes § 535.300 (1), you must within thirty days of the termination of my tenancy either:

(1) Return the full amount of the security deposit; or

(2) Furnish to the tenant a written itemized list of the damages for which the security deposit or any portion thereof is withheld, along with the balance of the security deposit. The landlord shall have complied with this subsection by mailing such statement and any payment to the last known address of the tenant.

Thirty days from the termination of my tenancy occurred on XX/XX/XXXX. To date, I have not received a written itemized list of the damages or any return of my security deposit. Therefore, please return my security deposit in full, totaling $XXX within thirty days of today's date. You may mail a check to the following address:

XX Whatever Street
Sometown, MO 12345

If I do not receive the amount of my security deposit, in full, by XX/XX/XXXX, I will file a claim in the amount $XXX (twice the amount of the security deposit), as allowed by Missouri Revised Statutes § 535.300 (5), at the Missouri District Court.
posted by doomtop at 1:59 PM on December 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

doomtop has your letter!!!

Write it. Send it certified and return receipt. Expect check, shortly.
posted by jbenben at 2:05 PM on December 19, 2012

That is perfect, doomtop, I'm probably going to use that pretty much verbatim. Thanks everyone for the encouraging words and to jbenben and doomtop for giving me a clear picture of how to go about this. Much appreciated!
posted by invitapriore at 3:37 PM on December 19, 2012

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