(WSVN) - Odds are you have rented a place in South Florida and maybe you didn’t get your entire security deposit back. One woman refused to give up, and that’s when she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser to get her money returned to her.

Marilyn Rickmon might not be a neat freak, but she is close.

Marilyn Rickmon, wants security deposit back: “A place for everything, and everything has a place.”

Not just a place for everything — a clean place for everything.

Marilyn Rickmon: “My brother came to visit me and he was like, before I moved here, ‘Man, I bet you clean every day, don’t you?'”

That attention to detail is now helping her after she moved out of a condo she was renting.

Marilyn Rickmon: “I left the apartment actually in better shape than it was in than when I went there.”

Marilyn left the place so nice that when the manager came to inspect it, she was impressed.

Marilyn Rickmon: “And she walked in the door and her words were, ‘This apartment is so clean!'”

Marilyn was happy, and then waited for the owner to return her $1,200 security deposit. Instead, he texted her complaining she had damaged the place.

Marilyn Rickmon: “I didn’t damage anything!”

The owner’s response?

Marilyn Rickmon: “And that is when he sent me the message that everything totaled $1,800 in damages and I was not receiving anything back.”

Fortunately, Marilyn had proof there was no damage — because she took several pictures of the unit.

Marilyn Rickmon

Marilyn Rickmon: “And I let him know I had pictures. I guess he said, ‘Whatever.'”

Despite that, the owner refused to return her $1,200 deposit. Her feelings? A little surprising.

Marilyn Rickmon: “No, I’m not angry. Reading that text and it said, ‘The damages are $1,800,’ I had a tear in my eye.”

Well, Howard, how can you make sure you get your security deposit back?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “The law is clear. Marilyn gets her entire $1,200 back, and here is why. The landlord has 30 days to send a certified letter telling you they are keeping all of your deposit or a portion of it and explain why. It cannot be a text or an email. It has to be a certified letter. If they don’t send that within 30 days, they have to return your security deposit. And one more thing: If they do send that letter within 30 days, you have 15 more days to dispute it.”

We talked to the landlord who owed Marilyn $1,200. He told us he would give her $600 back, but Marilyn said no.

Joseph S. Hughes, Law Office of Joseph Hughes: “Most people are completely caught off guard. Most people don’t think, ‘I’m going to lose my money.'”

Joseph Hughes specializes in getting tenants security deposits back. He offered to help Marilyn for free and contacted the landlord. This time he listened.

Joseph S. Hughes

Joseph S. Hughes: “I sent a simple demand letter by email to the landlord. I notified him that he had forfeited the right to retain the deposit, and he complied.”

Marilyn Rickmon: “So I was very impressed. I was like, ‘There is a God!'”

Marilyn got her $1,200 back, and now it will be spent on something very important.

Marilyn Rickmon: “It means a lot because I can accomplish what I needed to accomplish a long time ago, and that is getting a headstone that my father needed for his grave.”

Wow! When we started, we didn’t know she had planned to spend that security deposit on her father’s headstone. Makes it even more important that we got her help.

Marilyn was smart to take pictures. What should you do to ensure you get your security deposit back? The link to all that information is below this Help Me Howard story.

Rented a problem you want to disown? Ready to deposit it with someone? Let us move in. Hopefully we can clean things up and leave you nice and neat.

Your rights under landlord tenant law

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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