Security deposit should not be used for last month’s rent

Security deposit should not be used 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 the tenant gave proper notice and a forwarding address, a landlord must, within 30 days of when the tenant moves out, either return the security deposit or give written notice of why it is being withheld. 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.

Under the law, however, a tenant cannot require the landlord to use the deposit to cover the last month’s rent. In fact, if a tenant does, the landlord has the right to sue 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. To see more about Texas landlord tenant law, visit

Q. I was involved in a three-car accident. I was not at fault. The other two drivers admit it was not my fault, but both denied their responsibility, saying it was the other driver’s fault. Each insurance company denied my claim and told me to go to the other insurance company. What can I do to get the costs of repairing my car?

A. As you have learned, an insurance company is responsible only for acts of its insured, and if the insured denies liability the insurance company usually will refuse to pay unless you can prove it was the insured’s fault. In your case, both parties are blaming the other, and the insurance companies are simply going to wait and see who is responsible. One way of resolving this is to file a claim against both parties in justice court. In court, each party will have to tell his or her story to the judge and the judge determines liability. It may be that each is at fault and judge will assign 50 percent of the blame to each driver. Once liability is determined, the insurance companies should pay.


Q. Am I entitled to a paid leave when I have a child? My employer has told me any leave will be without pay.

A. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you may be entitled to up to 12 weeks leave, depending on the size the company and how long you have worked there. The law, however, does not require that the leave be with pay. Although many businesses grant employees a paid maternity leave, all you may be legally entitled to is unpaid leave.


Q. My 17-year-old daughter is living with her boyfriend. They tell everyone they are married. Do they have a common law marriage?

A. Generally, to establish a common law marriage, a couple must agree to be married, live together as married, and hold themselves out as married. After that, they would have a common law marriage. In this case, however, it doesn’t matter what your daughter does. In Texas, a person under the age of 18 cannot have a common law marriage.


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