Should I take my landlord to small claims court?

I moved out of my apartment on July 19 and my lease was up on July 31. On August 20 I received a check for my security deposit for $366, when it was supposed to be for $400. I texted my ex-landlord (that is her preferred way of communicating, it it how we have always communicated in the almost two years that she was my landlord) and asked her why it was for the wrong amount. She told me she was out of town for a few days and would look into when she got home. Turns out she was actually out of town for two weeks, and she returned home yesterday and said she would have an answer for me today. Today she tells me the reason they took money was for a cleaning bill. Now my roommates and I throughly cleaned the apartment before leaving, despite the fact that when we moved in it was disgusting. But according to the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951, landlords must send a list detailing any charges they have taken out of your security deposit, along with the check, within 30 days of moving out. Becuase she did not do this, I am actually entitled to double the amount of my security deposit. When I told her this she said there is nothing she could do and to stop being ‘unreasonable.’

I do not think I am being unreasonable. I am out of work and have $6 in my bank account. $44 may not seem like much, but to me it makes a big difference. I just need advice from someone who either had legal experience or has been to small claims court before. Should I bother going? Does it sound like I will win?

Here is the Pa Attorney General’s website, with the laws about security deposits:

There is also a .pdf of the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 on that website.
I have not cashed the check, hence the $6 in my bank account lol.

I asked her for a reason the very night I got it and did not receive a response until 2 weeks later. She was out of town but I asked if I could speak with the person who works above her (she works for a company, she does not personally own the building) she refused. I did not receive an explanation until well after the 30 days she is given by law.
I’m not desputing that she got a cleaning company, however uneccesary it was. The law says that she must send an itemized list along with the check within 30 days of the leas ending. She sent the check 20 days later without a list. I never recieved a list, she text messaged me today. (Sept 3.. 33 days later)

Posted in Landlord Tenant Law.


  1. Check your legal options then show her how unreasonable you can really be, take her to small claims court.

  2. Yes you should take her. She violated your rights as a tenant and it is a pretty good bet she would take you to small claims court if you violated something in the lease. She also does have to provide you an itemized copy of what exactly she took the $44 out for. Small claims court is a simple process and as the plaintiff all you have is the burden of proving that she owes you what she owes you. I say go for it and you pretty much have a win in the bag for this one. Do not let landlords take advantage of you.

  3. You – could however it is a very unlikely win.

    The double rule was put in for unreasonable landlords, the fact still remains that partial payment was issue within the timeline it is probable that you accepted that payment by cashing the check.

    A reason for deduction was given upon request.

  4. I wouldn’t bother with this. It’s not that hard for her to come up with a bill. Most landlords simply have their own staff clean apartments, so they can easily draw up a bill to show the judge in court.

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