Walters, Shannon, & Jensen

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Security Deposit – Treble Damages and Legal Fees

In an ongoing case,  a management company prepared a check to a tenant who had recently vacated an apartment.  The inspection of the unit disclosed no damages or defects.  An assistant property manager mailed several such checks, but one of the security deposit checks was not sent. It was later discovered that the check in question had become attached to another file.  The assistant realized the error approximately 1 week after the check was to be mailed and promptly mailed it to the former tenant.  The check arrived 5 days after the 30 day deadline.  The tenant hired an attorney who demanded 3x the security deposit plus legal fees due to the late receipt.  Management company responded with an apology and an offer of 2 months which was rejected.  The case will likely go to trial, the issue being whether the legislature intended for inadvertent mistakes on the part of employees of a landlord to require treble damages and legal fees.

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