Rental Basics in Austin>Question Details

Christine Pa…, Renter in Austin, TX

My prior property manager is attempting to retain security deposit for resodding a yard that was in poor condition when I moved in. Is that possible?

Asked by Christine Pacheco, Austin, TX Sun Sep 8, 2013

The property accepted pets and there were 4 small dogs prior to us. The grass was patchy at best in the backyard and barely any grass under trees in front due to poor soil and poor prior maintenance. I attempted to reseed and hand watered due to watering restrictions. The water was cut off on the 16th August when I moved out and not on again until after the 21st based on conversations with her. Now she is attempting to retain security deposit to resod the yard as they are attempting to sell the home.

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Bruce Lewis’ answer
Hi Christine,

Difficult circumstance - pictures or records of previous condition would be best. If you have receipts for the purchase of seeds that would be good. Possibly water bills showing an increase in water usage during hot dry months will help bolster your case. If your lease was up on August 16th and you informed the water company, you did the right thing. If you feel the fee is worth your troubles, you could go to small claims court and file a case If the owner is trying to sell, they are not going to want a pending small claims case against the property.

Wish you the best.

Bruce Lewis
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 8, 2013
Need to talk to an attorney and get their advice.
Flag Mon Sep 9, 2013
Adding to what Bill suggested, the Austin Tenants' Council is a good resource that you might exhaust before you get attorney's involved. Their site is
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 9, 2013
Dear Christine-

To answer your question as directly as possible; yes. It's not how good/bad of a tenant you were, it's whatever evidence they can use to back up their actions.

It will depend on the language used in the contract to begin with, and whatever evidence they may have today which works on their behalf.

I'm very sorry this is happening to you and, if you feel very strongly about this, I recommend using a lawyer to assist you in fighting over this. Otherwise, try to reason with the property manager, cut your losses and move on to better things.

You can always place a public review against them, but be sure to know that in this life sooner or later, people reap what they sow ( no pun intended ). Hope you find a good solution for your problem.

Kind regards,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 8, 2013
Did you take before and after pictures?
How does your inventory and condition form look?

Some property managers do what they can to keep you deposit.
They can do this and then you have to go to small claims court to try to recover.

If it really is in the same condition...then fight....if you have proof that would convince a judge or jury. Before and After pictures are excellent proof.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 8, 2013
I have images dated before I took possession and my own pictures, i have landscaper information from the maintenance company I used and I have neighbor testimony. So, I will be fighting.
Flag Mon Sep 9, 2013
Bruce Lynn, Real Estate Pro in Coppell, TX
Did u full out move in inventory form and note grass? Can u show proof or pics of previous grass? Did she give u the notice within 30days of ur out? Did she provide any proof? If none of these send her a 10day demand letter for your deposit back. Then u can go through jp court small claims
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 8, 2013
Get your Realtor you used invlved. Also, you can contact the cities renters right group for assistance. Did you notethe poor yard condition at the beginning?
Best wishes.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 8, 2013
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