A tenant breached a lease by quitting the premises with more than six months left on her lease. She received an itemized list of damages to be deducted from the security deposit. In Michigan, if the tenant sends the landlord her forwarding address within 4 days of moving out, the landlord has 30 days to return the deposit or send an itemized list of damages against the deposit and the tenant has seven days to object. In this case, we got the tenant out of the lease without having to pay anything for that lost rent!
It was easy but not due to my manipulation. On the merits, we were arguing that the landlord failed to keep the premises safe because though the tenant had requested new locks in light of an attempted break-in at her apartment, nothing was done by the management. This was a good argument but was not weight bearing at all because what clinched the deal was the security deposit timeline. The management sent out my client the list of damages beyond the 30 day deadline by which they were bound. When I informed them that they had to return the full deposit to my client even though she moved out with months left on the lease, they bucked up and asked for proof. I told them that my client was a great record keeper and had the envelope to prove that they failed to adhere to the 30 day timeline. When I faxed over a copy of the front of the envelope, the deal was done and we received the full deposit and saved thousands of dollars.
Moral of the story: Keep your records including the envelopes! Get out of paying damages for unpaid rent by arguing the security deposit timeline.