So, I've got a very messy situation. In 2004, myself and 2 friends moved into an apartment together. We signed a year lease agreement. We always paid our rent well before the 4th of the month, as specified in the rent. One of my friends moved out at the end of the year. We had someone else move in with us.
Our landlord made a verbal agreement with my friend who stayed at the apartment, and the new roomate, that the security deposit for the tenant who moved out would cover the deposit for the new tenant. For confusions sake, the three original tenants were Ryan, Adam, and Tim, and the tenant who moved in at the end of the first year was Chris. Not only was the decision of the security deposit verbal, but we were never asked to sign a second lease.
The copy of the lease that we have states that the security deposit shall be held for the term of the lease agreement. My landlord insists that here, in New Hampshire, the law states that if we stay beyond the term of the lease, we become month-month tenants, and our security deposits will not be returned until we give notice.
We were told in May that our apartment was going to be given to the tenants in the apartment next to us. We moved out June 1st 2006. I had moved out four days prior to the deadline. Adam and Chris stayed until May 31st. On the 31st, I came to help them move out. I met my landlord there, and she informed me of a leak coming from the shower head in our bathroom. She claims that on the 29th, someone physically broke the pipe behind the wall, connected to the shower head. The surrounding wall had no physical damage. Adam and chris noticed the leak when taking showers on the morning of the 29th, when the shower head seemed to have low pressure. Adam noticed a leak at the wall, and immediately turned off the shower. The leak was still present, and the apartment below us was affected. Our landlord claimed it was tenant damage, not wear and tear. I believe otherwise, as there had always been a leak below our shower that dripped into the apartment below.
Thirty days after we moved out, our security deposits were not returned. We provided our new addresses to her within 7 days of our moving out. We waited and waited and waited. About 50 days after we had moved out, I called our landlord, only to find she did not have our new addresses. I gave mine, and called adam and chris and let them know they needed to call and give the landlord their address a second time. After 65 days, Adam received his deposit. I did not recieve mine. Adams deposit is for $250 dollars, with a note mentioning the damages to the shower plumbing as a reason for deductions. She did not quote interest earned on the deposit. I called her a week later, after not recieving my deposit, and she said she would send it again. Exactly 90 days after we moved out, I received my deposit for $250, down from the original $366. She is also sending tim $250, and she told me that she expects Chris to pay Tim the difference. My deposit came in an envelope, with no itemized list of damages, or a reason for the deduction.
NH Law says that a landlord that fails to return the deposit within 30 days of the tenants leaving "...shall be liable to the tenant in damages in an amount equal to twice the sum of the amount of the security deposit plus any interest due under this subdivision, less any payments made and any charges owing for damages..."
I know this is a long post..but I'm very frustrated, and a poor college student. I have a credit card bill that I had been planning to pay off with my deposit, but with the reduced amount, I cannot. I know I wasn't clear with the focus of this post, but, my concern now is how I can use the above law to get my money back.