Security Deposit Dispute – Landlord’s Right to Deduct Expenses

What can be deducted from a security deposit?

Settling a security deposit with a tenant can be a landlord’s nightmare.  When a landlord deducts charges from the tenant’s security deposit a dispute often arises.  These disputes often end in litigation.

A landlord is required to follow very specific rules before deducting expenses from the tenant’s deposit.  The Texas Property Code details the rules landlords must follow. There are specific rules on what can and cannot be deducted.  Also, the landlord must document and itemize any deductions from a security deposit.  As well, the security deposit, less any deductions, must be returned to the tenant within a 30 day deadline.

What is “normal wear and tear”?

A landlord can deduct for damage that is not “normal wear and tear” on the property.  Are the needed repairs and maintenance a result of “normal wear and tear” by the tenant?  Or are the needed repairs a result of tenant abuse and neglect?  There is often no easy answer.  The key is to be reasonable.  The determination is often specific to the situation.

Document property condition and itemize deductions!

A landlord should document the property condition before the tenant moves in and after the tenant vacates. Also, the landlord should itemize each expense and justify why it was a legitimate deduction from the security deposit.  Furthermore, the landlord may inadvertendly waive the right to reimbursement for legitimate expenses if the landlord fails to itemize the deductions.

Let Bernick Legal Services handle the settlement and resolution of any dispute you have over a tenant’s security deposit.  Attorney Andrew Bernick is also a real estate broker with a dozen years of property management experience. The most challenging and costly part of being a landlord is handling disputes over security deposits.  Don’t risk losing your right to compensation for damage to your property.  Often security deposit disputes  can be handled with our flat fee arrangement. For more information call Andrew Bernick at 512-763-5370, or email Andrew@BernickLegal.com


Tenant Screening – $150

Leasing your rental property comes with inherent risks. The risk can be minimized with proper screening of prospective tenants. As a landlord, screening your lease applicant is the single most important task you should undertake.  Allowing the wrong persons to occupy your lease property can result in thousands of dollars in lost rental income and/or property damage. Often problem tenants will deceive and hide their past in an effort to obtain a lease. Bernick Legal Services can provide you complete criminal background checks, rental history, and credit reports for your applicants. Protect yourself and your property from unqualified and even malicious tenants. Contact Andrew Bernick at 512-763-5370 or Andrew@ BernickLegal.com for assistance.

Tenant Screening Service (criminal, rental and credit) - $150


Evictions (for Landlords): Turnkey service – $500

Eviction of a tenant can be a difficult process.  Removing a tenant from your property can be a troubling personal decision. In Texas, all residential evictions must be through the courts. The procedural process can be time consuming and difficult to navigate.  If you are a landlord faced with a need to reclaim your property because of  a tenant’s inability to pay rent or other breach of the lease, we can ease the process for you with turnkey eviction services.  For one flat fee, our eviction service includes filing the petition in the local Justice Court, representing you at the hearing, obtaining the eviction order, obtaining the writ of possession and securing the property. For more information, contact us at info@BernickLegal.com or call 512-921-5370.

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Lease Property, Code Compliance check -$200

The Texas Property code has specific code requirements for any lease property.  In addition, local municipalities often have additional code requirements. Failure to comply can result in significant fines.  Disgruntled tenants may report code violations to local authorities resulting in significant fines. We will inspect your lease property to ensure that you are in compliance with all state and local code, including locks, smoke detectors, door viewers, slide doors, etc. For more information, contact us at 512-763-5370 or email Andrew@BernickLegal.com.

On-site Compliance check - $200