Suing for your security deposit

Category: Tenant Rights & Laws Last Updated: Sunday, 28 September 2014 Published: Sunday, 21 September 2014 Written by ATA Admin

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Suing for your security deposit:

Pennsylvania law allows tenants to sue for twice the amount of their security deposit if the landlord improperly refuses to return the money. You can sue your landlord in magisterial district justice (MDJ ) court for the area where your apartment is located.

The MDJ will help you fill out the complaint. You’ll have to pay the filing costs unless you are very poor in which case you can ask the court to waive the filing fees (See IFP: waive filling fees page).  Your landlord may be ordered to pay these costs back to you. If the landlord does not return the security deposit within 30 days, the tenant can sue for double the amount withheld as damages, but only if the tenant gives the landlord the forwarding address in writing at the end of the lease. If this is the case be sure to say that you want to sue your landlord for double damages (ask for twice the amount of the security deposit).

The MDJ will set up hearing, give you a copy of your complaint, and will serve a copy on your landlord.

Bring with you, to the hearing the following:

  1. all rent receipts (or canceled checks.).
  2. security deposit receipt (or canceled check).
  3. list of damages when you moved in.
  4. pictures or videos.
  5. witnesses whose saw you pay the deposit and/or who know the condition of your apartment when you moved in and moved out.
  6. your copy of the letter that you sent to the landlord, giving him your forwarding address.

At the hearing, you will have to prove that:


  1. you paid all your rent;
  2. you paid a security deposit;
  3. you did not cause any damages, and that you left the apartment in the condition it was in when you moved in; and.
  4. you gave your landlord written notice of your forwarding address.


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