Do not use security deposit for last month’s rent

Q. My apartment lease was up in December. Since that time, we have had a month-to-month agreement. I am now moving out. I gave proper notice. I am afraid my landlord will not return my security deposit. Can I require the landlord to use my security deposit for the last month’s rent?

A. A security deposit is designed to compensate the landlord for damage to the apartment. Under the Texas Security Deposit Law, assuming you have proper notice and a forwarding address, a landlord must either return your security deposit or give you written notice of why it is being withheld within 30 days of when you move out. A landlord who violates this law is considered to be acting in bad faith, and can owe the tenant three times the deposit plus $100.

You cannot, however, require the landlord to use the deposit to cover the last month’s rent. In fact, if you do, the landlord has the right to sue you for three times the deposit plus another $100. My advice is to pay your rent, and if your security deposit is not properly returned, use the Texas Security Deposit Law.

Q. About two years ago, I had a car accident. Now the driver of the other car is suing me. My insurance company refused to pay, so he is suing me. What should I do?

A. First, you say “about two years ago.” Lawsuits based on an accident are known as “tort” lawsuits, and must be filed within two years of the injury. If it has been more than two years, the lawsuit probably should be dismissed. I suggest you promptly contact your insurance company. It should provide you with an attorney to defend the lawsuit against you. If your insurance company refused to pay because it did not believe you were responsible, you should not have any liability and the insurance company will pay the costs of defending you. On the other hand, if your insurance company was wrong and you are responsible, your insurance company will pay your liability. Either way, you should not have any individual liability beyond your deductible.

Q. If I get divorced, how much should I receive for child support?

A. According to state guidelines, the amount of support generally is based on a percentage of your spouse’s net income. Basically, the amount is 20 percent for one child, and then 5 percent more for each additional child. These are only guidelines, and although most courts follow them, a court may award a larger or smaller amount.Q. Can someone who puts a house on the market refuse to sell the house to me after I offer to buy it for exactly what he was asking? Don’t we have a contract?

A. Good question. As far as the law is concerned, you do not have a contract when you offer to buy a house at the asking price. Your “offer to buy” the house is just that, an “offer.” The seller may accept it or reject it. Until the offer is accepted, there is no contract. By putting the house on the market, the seller is merely soliciting offers; he or she is not making an offer to sell. As a buyer, you are the one making the offer. Although most sellers will accept an offer at their asking price, there is no legal requirement that they do so.

Q. My son was injured in a snowboarding accident. His injuries have required two surgeries so far. I have had to take time off work to take care of him. Is the resort responsible for any of our medical expenses or lost wages due to this accident on its property?

A. For the resort to have any liability, it is necessary to show that it was negligent and that its negligence caused your son to be injured. For example, if the resort did not properly maintain its equipment, and as a result it malfunctioned,injuring your son, the resort could be liable. On the other hand, if the injury occurred because of an accident that was not the fault of the resort, it would have no liability. I should also point out that many states have laws that protect ski resorts from liability for accidents that occur on their slopes. The bottom line is that as a general rule, you ski or snowboard at your own risk.

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