Thanks for your question.
Since the would-be tenant's failure to occupy the house cost you money
in the form of lost rent, there's certainly a case to be made for
withholding some or all of the security deposit as compensation.
However, there are also risks involved in doing this. Ultimately, you
will have to rely on your best judgement to determine the course of
action that makes the most sense for your situation. There are a
number of legal guidelines to consider, and I've laid these out below.
But first, please note the disclaimer at the bottom of the page.
Google Answers is no substitute for professional legal advice, so
please take everything here with appropriate grains of salt.
The basic rules of the road regarding security deposits in Connecticut
are described here:
Tenant's Rights: Security Deposits
in a document prepared by the Legal Assistance Resource Center of CT.
In it, they make several points regarding landlord and tenant
responsibilities, as seen in these two excerpts:
Your landlord must either:
-return the full security deposit, plus interest, or
-give you an itemized written statement of the nature and amount of
the damages (including lost rent) deducted from your deposit because
you violated your obligations.
What happens to my security deposit?
Your landlord must put your security deposit in an "escrow" account in
a bank. This means that the landlord cannot mix your money with his or
her own. The law generally does not permit the landlord to touch the
money until you move out.
There are several important points here:
1. The landlord is entitled to withhold part or all of the security
deposits to cover losses, including lost rent.
2. Any such withholding must be documented to the payer of the security in writing
3. The original security deposit was to have been placed in an escrow account
So, the closer the landlord complies with these provisions, the
stronger would be his/her case. That is, if the deposit was properly
escrowed, and if money withheld was documented in writing, then the
case is on reasonably solid ground.
HOWEVER, the same document also notes that failure to comply with
certain procedures means that the landlord could be held responsible
for double the deposit. That is, if the would-be tenant challenges
the withholding and wins, then you may be liable -- in some cases --
for two times the amount of the security deposit.
For the most part, any lease that was signed on the dwelling also
needs to be taken into consideration, although no lease can circumvent
the provisions of the laws of the state. But if there is language in
the lease regarding deposits/refunds/cancelling and so on, this
certainly needs to be taken into consideration.
Like I said, it's a judgement call.
If money is withheld, a complaint may be filed against you, or a small
claims proceeding, or both. That's the chance you'll have to weigh.
You can read the actual security deposit laws for Connecticut here:
ADVANCE RENTAL PAYMENT. SECURITY DEPOSITS
GENERAL STATUTES OF CONNECTICUT
in case these are of interest.
I trust this information fully answers your question.
However, please don't rate this answer until you have everything you
need. If there's anything more I can do for you, just post a Request
for Clarification, and I'm happy to assist you further.
Best of luck in working things out,
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