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1750 Tysons Blvd., Suite 1500, McLean, VA 22102
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Security Deposits

After a tenant moves out, the landlord generally has 45-days in which to return the security deposit and/or a written list of any deductions being made to the security deposit based on damages caused by the tenant.  The lease agreement may stipulate to a shorter or longer amount of time for return on the security deposit.  If the landlord fails to return the deposit after the allowed time period, the tenant can file a Warrant in Debt in the Small Claims Court for return of the deposit.  This will often prompt the landlord to file a Counterclaim for any additional damages above the amount that was covered by the security deposit.  If the landlord hires an attorney to represent them, the case will have to be removed to the General District Court.  At trial, the tenant will merely need to show the lease agreement and proof of payment of the security deposit, such as a canceled check.  The tenant should also be prepared to refute any claim of damages the landlord is claiming.  It is helpful to take pictures when vacating the premises and have an eyewitness who can describe t he condition of the premises.  This is also why it is important for tenants to conduct a move-in inspection and make notes of any damages that were pre-existing and provide that to the landlord at the beginning of the lease period, even if they are not requesting that the landlord repair them.