The laws concerning security deposits vary from state to state. There are a few general reasons that a landlord may be entitled to keep part or all of the tenant’s security deposit. The period in which the landlord must return the deposit varies, but it is typically within 15-30 days of moving out. The landlord is also required to include an itemized list of any deductions, so that you know exactly why your security deposit was withheld.
Reasons a Landlord May Keep the Deposit
There are four general reasons a landlord will be allowed to keep the security deposit. The security deposit may be kept to compensate for unpaid rent or if the property requires excessive cleaning. The deposit may also be used to offset the cost of repairing damages, as well as the cost of repairing or replacing damaged appliances. Normal wear or tear that occurs through regular living is not a reason that the landlord may keep the deposit.
What is Considered Wear or Tear?
Wear or tear occurs whenever a property is occupied. The longer a tenant has resided in a property, the more reasonable wear or tear can be expected. Small stains or holes are typically considered wear or tear. Faded blinds, paint, or curtains all occur over time. Rug wear from regular use is another type of wear or tear.
How Do I Keep my Security Deposit?
There are several steps you can follow to ensure that you will receive as much of your security deposit back as possible. You must give proper notice to your landlord prior to moving out. Clean the property thoroughly to prevent any excessive cleaning costs.
You should consider walking through the property with your landlord prior to move-out. This will allow you to check base with them regarding any repairs that must be made. Take pictures both when you move in and before you move out. Don’t make any unauthorized repairs and ask for explanations of vague terminology in your contract. If you do not receive your security deposit within the specified period of time, you must follow the necessary procedures to obtain it. Draft a properly formatted demand letter.
Because the laws vary between states, it is highly recommended that you consult with someone who is familiar with real estate law in your state. A security deposit tends to be thousands of dollars, so it is important to do everything you can to recover it. If you need help securing your deposit, contact us at LeBaron & Jensen today!