Owner troubling for security refund
I stayed in a rented flat from Feb'19 to Jun'20 in Hyderabad. Though we gave notice of vacating the house in Feb'20, the current Covid situation delayed our exit and we finally moved out after 5 months of notice in Jun'20. During the entire notice duration, many prospective tenants kept visiting the apartment but the owner's deal did not get finalized. Owner compelled to increase the monthly rent from 40K to 44K and we had to forcefully pay the new rent during the entire notice period.
There was an issue with one of kitchen slab stone since we came in the house. There were 5 cracks and we informed the owner about it and also that it could potentially get damaged if it wasnt repaired. During our stay, we came to know about the stone quality issue and that the material used for kitchen stone has some structural problem (stated by interior designer, stone seller, co-residents who used similar material out of ignorance). Owner used to visit frequently to check the house. During all visits, we highlighted the need of stone re-work. They always agreed on poor quality of stone and asked us to not use the slab and use alternatives (adhesives, white cement etc) to minimize further damage. We did all these work-around arrangements but the stone cladding fell off 3 times hurting some one or the other in the kitchen accidentally. Each time they asked us to get it re fixed. We did not want to do it as it could lead to some accidents but we had no choice. A few days before vacating, the cladding came out and it hurt my toe severly. I informed the owner immediately but they still wanted us to manage somehow. Since we were about to vacate the house, we did not pursue any longer.
After vacating the house, owner troubled us a lot for return of security deposit (80K). They did multiple inspections of the house and every time asked us to wait for update from their side after further review. After about 20 days of follow-ups (they do not take my calls at all), they have returned only 54K. The balance is deducted for stone repair and paint work.
I take it as breach of trust for following reasons:
1. Stone repair was my request throughout my stay which was not considered by owner. While vacating the house, why should I bear the entire cost of structural damage which was beyond my control (as per contract. tenant can not be held responsible for damage beyond control)
2. There was no clause or agreement for paint work. I had requested for the house to be painted before my coming in, but owner did not do it. Why should I pay for paint?
3. I feel mentally harassed specially during tough times of Corona pandemic increase in rent during notice period when many are relaxing the rents considering the situation; sudden changes in stances after vacating,continuous follow-ups on my money, unreasonable responses and even threats from their side.
Please advice on what legal options I have to fight for my money and mental peace.