You need to know how to get security deposit back from landlord, either at the end or midway through the lease. This deposit is your property and a big chunk of change that could reduce the upfront payment in your next rental. You could even put it as pet rent or pet deposit in your new place.
If your refuse to give you a security deposit refund, they must give a detailed reason. Do not be nervous about asking for your security deposit refund – you do not have to be. As long as the apartment is in good condition, you should get your security deposit back in full.
How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit?
Your landlord must return your security deposit within a certain number of days after you move out. The specific timeframe depends on your state where the rental property is located. Some states mandate returning the security deposit within a few days, while in other states the landlord has a few weeks or longer to return the deposit.
Below is how long your landlord has to return your security deposit by state:
Security deposit return deadline
14 days (if a tenant has given proper notice to terminate tenancy) or 30 days (if the tenant fails to give proper notice or the landlord deducted amounts needed for repairs
The landlord has 30 days, unless your lease allows more time but it must not be more than 60 days
30 days, or within 15 days of tenant sending in their forwarding address (or whichever is later)
15 to 30 days depending on whether the landlord or tenant makes a claim
21 days after the lease ends or, if stated in the lease, within 30 days after the tenant leaves the premises
30 to 45 days
14 days but must not exceed 30 days
30-60 days, depending on whether there are disputes deductions
30 days for written rental agreement) or 21 days for tenancy at will
21 days after tenant leaves, and landlord receives mailing address; 5 days if tenant must leave due to building condemnation
30 days (10 days if no deductions)
30 days; or 60 days (if landlord’s claim against the deposit cannot be finalized within that time)
14 days, and must supply reasons if withholding any portion; 45 days for a written, itemized accounting, if tenant requests it
No statutory deadline
14 days or 60 days (if the rental is seasonal and not intended as the tenant’s primary residence)
60 days from the date of the tenancy termination or within 45 days of the occupancy of a subsequent tenant, whichever is shorter.
Within 30 days of the termination of the lease or eviction, or within 15 days of the tenant notifying the landlord of the tenant’s new address
Above are the deadlines for each state. So, you can follow the link for additional information on security deposit in your state.
How to get security deposit back from landlord
First, you need to understand the security deposit refund rules. Follow the steps as highlighted in this section to get your security deposit refund from your landlord:
Refer to your lease
You need to know when your security deposit should be returned. States typically require landlords to pay back your security deposit within 14, 30, 45, and 60 days of moving out. Nonetheless, refer to your lease for the specific timeframe.
A landlord does not also need any extra time to prepare your money. Normally, landlords are expected to keep security deposits in a separate bank account from their business bank account. In Massachusetts, the landlord keeps the money in a separate, interest-bearing account, and must pay interest on the deposit if the tenant lasts for a year or more, typically 5% annually.
This interest rule does not apply in all states, so check with your local housing authority to know the correct rules where you live.
Know what can be deducted from the security deposit
A landlord can deduct any damage repair costs and unpaid rent from a security deposit. As such, your landlord needs to give you a detailed list of repairs and evidence (copies of receipts or bills) of the costs if there is damage. Note that sometimes, a landlord can try to keep the security by falsely claiming damages.
Fill out the move-in checklist
Getting back your security deposit begins the day you move in. You need a move-in checklist to provide a convenient and organized way to keep track of the condition of your rental property and check for damage beyond normal wear and tear.
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Your landlord also uses a move-in checklist to document existing conditions in the home.
Read your lease
It is important to follow the rules when moving out of your apartment if you want to get your deposit back. In some cases, a lease automatically extends beyond its expiration date. If this happens, you need to give your landlord notice, typically 30 days, or risk breaking your lease.
Your landlord may then leverage this to keep your security deposit. You also need to give written notice if your lease is month-to-month.
Know your local landlord-tenant laws
Your landlords must abide by local laws and statutes. Thus, make sure to learn about renters rights, which can make a difference.
For instance, security deposits are limited to one month’s rent in Alabama, except for additional deposits like pets. The landlord then has to return the deposit 60 days after the lease expires.
Read also: my landlord sold apartment despite lease
There is no statutory limit to the security deposits in Montana. In this case, a landlord refunds your security deposit back in 30 days or 10 days if nothing has been deducted.
In Nevada, your security deposit can be up to 3 months of rent. Your landlord then has 30 days to return it.
Organize the property
Refer to those photos in your move-in checklist. Take some time to put the property back in its original condition.
If you made paint changes, get in touch with your landlord for the name of the original paint color to buy and try to get the color right. The landlord may even tell you if they plan to repaint the property themselves.
Fix loose hinges on doors and cabinets. Deep clean floors and carpets and scrub the kitchen, bathroom, stove, and refrigerator.
Fill out the move-out checklist
Fill out the apartment move-out checklist. You want to complete the move-in checklist obtained from your landlord or create one yourself. It should document the current condition of your apartment when moving out. It also minimizes potential disputes with your landlord, making sure the landlord receives the property in good condition.
Consider taking videos and pictures of the property and email the files to your landlord immediately. You would have previously filled out a move-in checklist, showing the digital and time-stamped documentation of the property’s condition when you first moved into the apartment.
Request a final apartment walk-through and ask your landlord to inspect the property after the cleanup. Your landlord is not mandated to do the inspection, so they may decide to do it when you move out.
Return the keys
Return the sets of keys the landlord gave to you, including the house, gate, and mailbox keys, or any key you received.
The landlord will have to pay to replace any lost keys. Some landlords even change the locks once a tenant moves out.
Submit your forwarding address
Your landlord needs your new address to send your security deposit. Do not forget to leave a forwarding address or any necessary instructions for a direct deposit.
Take action if your security deposit is not refunded
If you have done the right thing but your landlord refuses to pay your security deposit back, or holds back the money, write a certified letter, outlining the reasons you should get more or all of your security deposit refund.
Ensure to include the landlord-tenant laws that say you must get all the money back. Include the before and after photo and video of the apartment ad evidence, if any.
A certified letter should sway your landlord for your sector deposit refund. Otherwise, your next move is a small claims court. You would have to file a claim and pursue the legal action.
Prorated rent is another issue that may come up at the end of your lease. You may not owe for a full month if you move out any day other than the last day of the month.