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Damage deposit

Rocky Mountain...
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107 posts
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Damage deposit

We stayed in a vacation rental from July 2 - 13 and paid a damage deposit prior to our arrival. So far, we haven't received any communication from the owner regarding the return of our deposit. Does anyone know how long a property owner can legally hold a damage deposit/inform tenants of damages once the unit is vacated? 30 days? 60 days? Any information is appreciated.

Spokane, WA
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1,422 posts
33 reviews
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1. Re: Damage deposit

Why don't you just call or email the owner yourself and ask how long until it would be refunded.

Palm Springs...
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11,440 posts
105 reviews
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2. Re: Damage deposit

this is one HUGE REASON for not renting from an owner.. and not ever sending cash.....it is a red flag..

All professional managed condos dont even charge you for this........In many cases owners are under on obl;igation to return your money... and use it to enhance their revenue......... many do this.// or label it cleanign deposit.. etc... its at his discretion....

Do you have a written contract ? if not I am sorry to say you may have just lost your " deposit".........

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3. Re: Damage deposit

Let's not use such a wide brush on this. We rent direct and employ a rental management agency to look after our condo and our guests. They take a $500 damage deposit when the guest registers. It can be on a credit card.

We've had two cases in six years where we had to charge guests for damages. Ordinary wear and tear are NOT DAMAGES. (But when a guest sets fire to your countertops or steals a koa-framed print...that's damage!) If an owner employs an agency, the agency cannot by law assess "damages" willy-nilly.

Rocky Mountain...
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4. Re: Damage deposit

>>Why don't you just call or email the owner yourself and ask how long until it would be refunded.

We have. Our email and voicemail messages have gone unreturned.

Since no date was specified in the contract, does the return period default to 30 days?

Thank you.

Kihei, HI
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311 posts
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5. Re: Damage deposit

Time to dig up the old Hawaii Residential Landlord-Tenant Code (yes, even vacation rentals must abide by the code).

Section 44(c) - If the landlord has lawful grounds to retain all or any portion of the security deposit, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the reasons for retention. Any costs, such as cleaning or specific repairs, must be itemized and copies of receipts included. If the repairs cannot be accomplished within the 14 days, estimates for the cleaning or repair services may be substituted. The notice, and any portion of the security deposit remaining, after deductions, must be given to the tenant within 14 days after the termination of the rental agreement. In order to comply with this 14-day requirement, the landlord should obtain acceptable proof of mailing from the Post Office. The landlord may also prove compliance with the 14-day requirement by other types of evidence, such as the tenant's acknowledgment or the testimony of witness. If notice, including the return of any remaining security deposit, is not accomplished within 14 days, all of the security deposit shall be returned to the tenant.

So what all that means is that the owner has 14 days to either send you your money or provide you with some kind of proof that there are damages he is trying to get fixed. So what happens if the owner doesn't do this?

Section 44(h)(1)(2)(3) & (4)- Legal action involving security deposit disputes may be undertaken by either party only in small claims court. In this type of small claims court action, lawyers are not allowed to represent either party. Where the court determines that the landlord:

A. Wrongfully and willfully retained all or part of the security deposit, it may award the tenant damages equal to three times the security deposit, or part thereof, plus the cost of the suit.

B. Wrongfully retained all or part of the security deposit, it shall award the tenant damages equal to the portion of the security deposit, or part thereof, wrongfully retained plus the cost of the suit.

C. Retained the security deposit lawfully, it shall award the landlord damages equal to the portion of the security deposit, or part thereof, in dispute plus the cost of the suit.

So that means the only way to get your money, if the owner won't give it to you, is to take him to small claims court.

I recommend threatening the owner with this information which may get them moving. But, if you still don't get anything form them, it will be up to you to decide if small claims court is worth your time. You can view the complete Landlord-Tenant Code here: hawaii.gov/dcca/areas/ocp/landlord_tenant/

Good Luck!

Los Gatos, CA
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119 posts
17 reviews
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6. Re: Damage deposit

Wow, most intelligent response I have seen here on TA

Los Angeles...
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7. Re: Damage deposit

Good advice from HumpbackHelper. The State of Hawai`i takes the Landlord Tenant Code EXTREMELY SERIOUSLY.

Follow thru and let us know!

Kihei, HI
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1,029 posts
2 reviews
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8. Re: Damage deposit


This one came up almost exactly a year ago.

Here's what went down last time. Augment as you see fit ...


Remember that you, personally, must appear in court here on Maui in order to score any satisfaction. If your owner has not detailed damages to you within 2 weeks of your departure, you have already won.

Provided that you are willing to come back for your day in court.

Aloha :)

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552 posts
37 reviews
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9. Re: Damage deposit

Keeping the deposit about 4-6 weeks is the standard so there is time for the phone bills to come in with any long distance charges. I know that seems goofy in this techno age of cell phones, but that's what my last four rentals were like. One agency actually goofed up and returned duplicate checks for my deposit. Bummer I had to give one back.

Kuala Lumpur...
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1,359 posts
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10. Re: Damage deposit

Threatening an owner who has not yet violated the law is good advice?

The poster left the rental property July 13. The post is dated July 26 - 13 days. The owner is required to put the security deposit in the mail on or before the 14th day after the end of the rental.

The owner is not in violation of the law and there is talk here of threatening the owner and taking legal action against the owner.

Gimme a break !!!!