Your landlord has a legal obligation to return your security deposit. However, there are a few circumstances in which they don’t have you repay you, for example:
- Unpaid rent or utilities: Your landlord can use your deposit money to pay for past due rent or unpaid utilities. They will need to give you a written notice that explains why they used the deposit money and how, in detail. After they pay the debts, your landlord should return any leftover money.
- Damaged property: Your landlord can use your security deposit money to pay for property damaged beyond normal wear and tear. Routine property maintenance is normal upkeep, which could include carpet cleaning and fresh paint.
- Incorrect address: You didn’t give your landlord the correct mailing address, so they were unable to send the security deposit. Your landlord has 30 days to return your deposit. If you haven’t received it, check on the mailing address.
Improving chances of full reimbursement
There are ways to increase the likelihood of getting back your security deposit. It’s important to leave the rental unit in good condition and make small repairs when appropriate. Before you leave, you can make the place look nicer by removing any trash and vacuuming.
Additionally, you can document how well you left the unit looking by taking pictures or a video. Afterwards, double check with your landlord to make sure they have the correct address to send your deposit. It’s helpful to document this interaction, as well.
Knowing your security deposit rights
Tenants can sue if they did not receive a refund for the full security deposit within 30 days. This can be done if the landlord never sent a letter with valid reasons for why they withheld the deposit, listed above.
Some factors might limit a tenant’s ability to take legal action. If you cannot show that you gave a written notice of your address to the landlord, then it reduces what you can recover. It’s important you also have proof that you left the unit in good condition.
Individuals should contact an experienced lawyer when dealing with tenant-landlord issues. They can help you look over the legal options available to you. You may be able to recover some or all of your security deposit.