Question regarding security deposit

My brother and his family recently ended his lease 6 months early and moved in with me.

Basically, they stayed with me for 3 weeks to look for jobs and returned home to find their house infested with fleas. It was mutually agreed, via verbal conversations, that the fleas came from the landlord’s possessions in the basement were the source of the flea problem (not sure how it was determined).

The landlord said that they could break their lease and they would be refunded a portion of their lease after they moved out. They moved in with me, 5 hours away, and now the landlord will not return their call or answer an email.

I assume the next step is to write a formal letter staking a claim to the security deposit. Does anyone know of a renter’s advocacy group in PA?

I’m not saying my brother is 100% in the right here. Bottom line, we need to get the landlord talking.

The deposit is only $700.00 so small claims court may be the only way to go. The cost to drive there, represent yourself, etc. may make it prohibitive and the landlord probably knows this.

Thanks for any advice.

Was it in writing from the LL stating they could break the lease and get a partial return of their security deposit? If not, the court will likely just have to go off of the written lease agreement. In my lease, I have a clause that states the lease is the entire agreement between the LL and tenant. If you don’t have anything in writing about breaking the lease, the court won’t have much to cling to besides the lease. It will turn into a he said / she said deal in court.
Sometimes it’s better to walk away. I also have a penalty clause in my lease equal to two month of rent for breaking the lease early. You could search online for a tenant advocate group in that state or metro area. There may be one.

I would recommend using a tenant advocacy group instead of small claims court because when I do background check on prospective tenant I screen out anybody that has been sued or sued a landlord.

Oral agreements normally do not mean anything to the law-usually. Is there any type of agreement in writing about the deposit. Never do anything with an oral agreement. Traditionally, the landlord will win based on what is written in the lease about leaving the lease early and about security deposits.

Hi Kazmagic; I would love to know how this story turned out; when dealing with landlord -tenant agreement its good to have everything in writting in the lease agreement.

Yeah, I agree. Better to deal with this witha tenant advocacy group around. Your brother has tried (from what I’ve read) to reach his landlord and looks like the thought of taking this to court is too much. So yeah, ask some assistance/help from those groups who could represent him.