Can you keep a tenants deposit for unpaid rent?
Yes , If tenant doesn’t reply to you about his final rent within 30 days and he default it. Then you have a right to deduct from his deposit. Or living in a rented condominium and failed to pay his final associate fee.
So , It depends on the agreement. In agreement, if it is mention then you have the right to hold. If there is nothing mentioned in the agreement then you have the right to hold not his full deposit but part of it depending on his previous utility bills or rent.
After you go through small claims, you will gain the deposit, he has to pay the cost of the court fees and any interest that’s listed in the lease. Just take what you owe and you won’t have that huge liability hanging over you.
However, rent laws ussually vary from state to state so you better consult local lawyer before finalising anything.