Tenant breaks lease and wants security deposit back

So I have a tenant who got evicted by the cops for selling drugs. Well, supposedly her cousin who was in the house was selling drugs. Anyways, I was told by the district attorney that i’m cleared and i wouldnt have to do anything until her court date, when they would legally terminate her lease for me.

Anyways, she’s been bugging me for her security deposit. I’ve tried telling her that she broke her lease and she isnt eligible to receive her security deposit. I went as far as using a cellphone contract as an analogy. She keeps insisting that since she was evicted and that I broke her lease I should return her money.

Anyways, it sounds like an easy case for me and I’m still waiting for her court date. The DA told me to sit tight for another week and if she doesnt show up, then I get my property back. In the meantime she has her things in there and she wont come and get them until she gets her security deposit. Now she’s threatening to sue me. ???

So, has anyone face this before? If she even tried to get a lawyer, would they even take her case?!

What does your state law say about eviction and the security deposit?

What does your lease agreement say about eviction and the security deposit?

State laws vary greatly on landlord-tenant laws, but I’m pretty safe at saying that it’s okay NOT to return the security deposit UNTIL she is completely out of the property. Part of the reason for a security deposit is to insure that the property IS returned to you in the same condition as it was leased (minus usual wear and tear).

If she has not left the property yet, then it’s impossible to determine what condition it will be left in.


I’ll have to research the laws here in Philly, but in the lease it basically says if the tenant breaks the lease, the security deposit is non-refunded. She’s got a couple of things going against her anyways.

She was late for january’s rent and she didnt have february’s rent. She got booted on Feb 2nd and she didnt appear at her first court date. Her second court date is in a few weeks. As far as I know the house is in good shape, but she also had 5+ ppl living there, more than I was told!

The last thing I want to do is to go to court for something really minor. It’s just a waste of time in my opinion.

Sounds like you have a pretty good case to keep the deposit. You didn’t break her lease, she probably did by using drugs. In the standard lease I use, there’s a clause in there that says no illegal activities. That violates the lease so that means she broke the lease by doing so. Typically the security deposit can be kept if rent is owned and if she didn’t keep her end of the bargain, you probably have a good shot at keeping the security. Keep up the research to make sure though. In this state, you do have to give a proper accounting for the security deposit and there’s a law that gives tenants triple damages plus court costs if you don’t do things right so it will pay to be careful here. You might also want to string her along a little saying that you’ll look into it more after she moves out and the condition of the apartment is good. Make sure you don’t promise it back to her though. Also the fact that she was late really has nothing to do with the security deposit, it would just be a separate claim. Oh and if you’re still missing February’s rent, I’m pretty sure you can keep the deposit for back rent. Also if she sues you for the deposit, she’d either have to get a lawyer or pay the court filing fees to bring suit against you. If she doesn’t have any money or talks to a lawyer that knows she doesn’t have a chance, chances are you won’t get sued.

As always, this isn’t legal advise as laws vary from state to state.

keep the deposit…she legally owes for feb if her stuff is still there and she technically hasn’t been evicted yet.

I agree with Henry. SHE broke the lease, not you. Every lease I have seen has that clause in it, any illegal activity and your out, which means no security deposit. As far as her threatening to sue you, get used to it. Eventually your skin grows thick to that kind of stuff. I have been threatened and my company has been threatened over and over and over. It’s BS most of the time. Stick to your guns, know your lease and goodluck!!!


Just send your tenant a certified letter outlining the clause in the lease that she broke and telling her why she is legally prevented from reclaiming her security deposit. Also tell her that if she persists with threats that you will file a cross-complaint and ask for damages and attorney fees.

Da Wiz