Many courts recommend you make a formal demand for payment from your landlord before filing a lawsuit. However, even if sending a formal demand letter is not a legal requirement, it can still help you in two ways:
- Your demand letter may catalyze settlement with your landlord.
- Even if you do not get the compensation, explaining your point of view in a formal demand letter helps you organize the matter for future legal proceedings.
In most cases, it is the issue with the return of the security deposits where landlords can be a bit difficult. The landlord requires a security deposit to protect their interest in case of any damages done by a tenant.
Whether it is a damaged wall, stained carpet, broken appliances, or any other property damage that might be your fault, the landlord will use your security deposit to repair the issue, and it is a fair deal.
However, it is not unusual for property management companies or landlords to return little or even refuse to return any security deposit, whatsoever. If the landlord wishes to subtract any money from your security deposit, they must provide documented proof of the reason why they are keeping a fraction of or all your security deposit.
If your property management company or landlord refuses to give you any rationale and keep your security deposit, you can send them a demand letter. It will help express your concern and your intent to take the matter to court if the landlord refuses your request.
You can also express any other issues such as mistreatment on your landlord’s behalf, misleading advertisement of the property, faulty plumbing, unstable structure of the property, or untimely evacuation request, via demand letter. You can ask for compensation or an alternate solution depending on your needs and convenience.
What to Write in Your Demand Letter to the Landlord
Here are some tips for writing your demand letter to the landlord or property manager.
- Whether you have rent control or not, always begin a demand letter with your concerns.
- Do not use a threatening tone. Stick to the facts as they are your best defense and easy to prove if you go to the court for a resolution.
- We strongly recommend getting a professional legal team to draft a demand letter on your behalf on their formal letterhead.
- Cc your demand letter to a relevant authority such as a councilperson, or housing authority if you are lucky to have rent control. It will add weightage to your demand letter and force the landlord to take your concerns seriously; it will make them accountable for their actions.
- Good manners go a long way, and being friendly never hurts.
Send Your Demand Letter
Once you have written an effective demand letter, send it to your landlord using a standard or certified mail. Always ask for a return receipt confirmation.
If you are using a standard mail, ask for a tracking/delivery confirmation, in case the landlord refuses to sign the return receipt confirmation. These return receipts or delivery confirmation will work in your favor if the landlord claims not to have received your demand letter.