Security Deposit Legal Issues

It’s one of the most common issues for renters – not getting a security deposit back after moving out of a rental property. Many landlords and property owners can be less than forthcoming when it comes to returning a security deposit, making renters jump through hoops and charging for unexpected repairs.

As a tenant you should know the laws regarding rental agreements so that you can ensure proper procedure is followed to get your security deposit back. Here are some things to consider regarding your security deposit:

Contact Your Landlord About Damages

If things break in your unit from regular wear and tear and you don’t notify the landlord to fix them, you may be charged for it when you move out. Since it is your landlord’s responsibility to fix things that break in your property, you should always inform him when something breaks so it can be fixed. If need be, you can agree on a cost for repairs (if the damage is your fault) rather than have all, or a large chunk, of your security deposit taken.

Know Your State’s Security Deposit Rules

Most states have a deadline for when a landlord has to inform you of any deductions from your deposit that they are taking or if they are going to hold your deposit. Typically, the time frame varies from a couple weeks to a month. By law, landlords can take part of your security deposit for unpaid rent, repairing damages and cleaning the premises. To find out more about your state’s laws regarding security deposit deadlines visit:

Attend the Final Inspection

A landlord will always do a final inspection after you move out. Typically, you have a right to be at the inspection so you can have the opportunity to address any issues or do any additional cleaning the landlord might request to avoid being charged.

Follow up with the Landlord

If all else has failed with your landlord and you can’t negotiate a settlement or he’s not responding to your requests to refund the money, you may want to write a demand letter requesting your deposit be returned to you. Most states require that you send a demand letter before you can take the case to small claims court.

Legal plan members have access to attorneys that can provide assistance drafting demand letters and assist you with filing in small claims court if necessary. To find an attorney near you, contact us at 800-821-6400, or visit

This article is intended to provide you with general information. This article is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, legal advice. If you require legal advice, please consult with your own attorney.

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