The landlord/tenant code of New Jersey allows landlords to make deductions on tenant's security deposit if they have rent arrears or have caused substantial damages on the property beyond typical wear and tear or other expenses following breach of lease agreement. The security deposit must be repaid to the tenant within 30 days from the time the tenant left the premise or the landlord provide an itemized statement showing deductions along with the balance within the same period.
Tenants cannot be held liable for damages resulting from regular use of the rented property. These include damages such as blistered paint, loose door hinges, and worn carpet are considered common wear and tear which cannot be avoided during day to day activities. Landlords are only allowed to make deductions on security deposit when there are serious damages such as broken floor tiles, careless punching on the wall or stained carpets.
If you find yourself in a situation where the landlord is withholding part or whole of your security deposit wrongfully or without any substantial reason, there are several ways you can use to get back your deposit. The first step is to send a professionally written letter to the landlord expressing your concerns. You need to first confirm receipt of the itemized list sent by the landlord and then express your dispute and state the reasons you are not agreeing with the deductions. Although you might end up communicating with the landlord verbally or through the phone, be sure to put everything in writing to avoid future problems and also have proof if the matter ever goes to court.
This HomeTitan's Damages Claim Dispute Letter addresses your concerns over wrongful assessment of deductions on security deposit while also warning the landlord if they are defaulting the payment in bad faith. Always make sure to send this letter by certified mail to get a return receipt and save your own copy.