Is Your Landlord Keeping the Deposit? Here's What You Should Do

Landlord Protection Is Your Landlord Keeping the Deposit? Here's What You Should Do

Is Your Landlord Keeping the Deposit? Here's What You Should Do

The rental market is heating up once again as the housing market works to get back into balance. If you are a renter, there is no better time than now to educate yourself on your rights as a tenant, especially regarding your security deposit and getting that money back when your lease is done. You may be preparing to pack and move out, but is your ?

Your security deposit is money you worked hard to earn and should be returned to you if you fulfilled your responsibilities as a tenant. DoNotPay can help you to create, prepare, and serve your landlord with an excellent security deposit demand letter that is sure to grab their attention and find your money back in your pocket, where it belongs.

How Do You Know It Is Time to Send a Security Deposit Letter?

One of the most confusing parts about security deposit letters is knowing when to send them. In some circumstances, getting your security deposit back can be a bit challenging at best. However, landlords are obligated to give you some portion of your money back in most states. The entire amount is not guaranteed due to possible expenses the owner incurs, but some of your money will be returned to you in most cases.

There are, in many states, fixed deadlines that landlords are under in which they may return your security deposit refund based upon the time you vacated the property. This timeframe usually ranges somewhere between 14 and 60 days.

Once that duration of time has expired, you are free to proceed with providing your landlord with a security deposit refund letter. DoNotPay can help you to recoup your security deposit and ensure your hard-earned money is back in your pocket where it belongs.

Are There Situations Where Your Security Deposit Letter Is Null and Void?

In most cases, your request for a security deposit is well within reason. There is normal wear and tear on a rental property that every landlord expects. If a landlord plans on taking deductions from your security deposit, he is obligated to notify you, in writing, listing an entire breakdown of grievances, the expense he associates with each grievance, and all situations where the lease was possibly breached. Included in the aforementioned wear and tear on an apartment or rental home includes the following:

  • Worn carpeting
  • Peeling pain
  • Minor changes in the property and lease that are a result of a long-term lease.
  • Breakdown of appliances as a result of long-term use.
  • Broken hinges
  • Dirty air filters

There are some items that are considered more serious damage and are therefore eligible for your landlord to dock from your security deposit. These damages include the following:

  1. Burns in the carpet or walls
  2. Broken appliances due to neglect or misuse (unless you notified the landlord in writing, and he did not repair them after receiving notice)
  3. Holes in floors, walls, or windows
  4. Broken mirrors, windows, and doors
  5. Excessive dirt and evidence of a lack of cleaning and care of the property
  6. Excessive damage to the property above and beyond normal use associated with a long-term lease
  7. Any damage to the property due to a guest of the tenant.

In addition, there are a few other situations in which the , depending upon the situation. These situations include:

  • If you were to vacate the property without paying the rent
  • If you leave the property without cleaning it, and it is filthy
  • If you leave things that need to be removed such as furniture or food in the refrigerator
  • If you terminate your lease before the date it expires
  • If you fail to pay your utility bills

DoNotPay can help you to accurately identify where you are in the security letter process, as well as help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible.

So if You Have to Write a Security Deposit Letter, What Information Should You Include?

Writing a security deposit letter may seem a bit daunting when you first sit down to write it. Keep in mind, your letter doesn't have to be excessive. This is a situation where short and sweet may actually be better; however, it is important to be clear with your verbiage and intent. You do not need to include any legal terminology or hostile wording. You only want to convey that you understand your rights as a tenant, and you will pursue the matter if the need arises. Below are some dos and don'ts to help guide you:

  • State that you have always paid your rent on time
  • Point out that you have honored the terms of your lease
  • Explain that you have yet to receive your security deposit back
  • Refer back to your state's laws and deadlines for returning the security deposit to a renter
  • Include your new address
  • State the exact amount of your security deposit refund, as you expect it to be
  • Confirm a logical timeline for you to receive the security deposit
  • Be threatening or aggressive
  • Demand your money immediately
  • Write when you are angry, tired, or otherwise emotionally compromised
  • Be unclear as to your intent or the amount you expect
  • Include information not pertaining to your security deposit

Be sure to make several copies of the letter and all supporting documentation that you have. If you find yourself in court, the more information and data you have, the better your case will be received.

Also, make sure you send the letter by certified mail. This offers proof, to both you and the court, that your landlord received the letter regarding the security deposit. If you do not receive your refund by the time you stated in your letter, it is time to proceed with legal action. DoNotPay is here to step up and help you clearly and safely navigate the waters of legal action to get your security deposit back if you don't want to hire a lawyer. 

How to Get Back Your Security Deposit with DoNotPay

DoNotPay is the world's first robot lawyer that has helped millions of consumers solve their problems. Through the "Landlord Protection" product, you can get back your security deposits, learn about your state's eviction laws and the protection you're entitled to, resolve repair disputes with your landlord, and settle disputes with roommates. All you need to do is:

  1. Search for and open the Landlord Protection product on DoNotPay. 
  2. Select which issue applies to you. 
  3. Answer a simple set of questions so our chatbot can collect the necessary information to create your demand letter. 
  4. Choose whether you want DoNotPay to send the demand letter to your landlord or roommate on your behalf. If you already tried sending a demand letter and it didn't work, we can help you start the small claims court process. 

That's it! DoNotPay can draft and send a demand letter on your behalf to pressure your landlord to return your deposit. If this doesn't work, we can help you file Small Claims Court papers to get your deposit back.

Landlord Keeping Security Deposit — FAQs

When is a landlord allowed to keep your security deposit?

Landlords are allowed to keep your security deposit if you are breaching the terms agreed in your lease, such as terminating your lease early, nonpayment of rent and utilities, or damage to the property.

What constitutes normal wear and tear?

A landlord is not allowed to keep your security deposit due to normal wear and tear, such as small stains on the carpet, loose handles on cabinets, a few small nail holes, and reasonable amounts of dirt.

Can the landlord keep my security deposit to cover cleaning costs?

No, your landlord cannot use your security deposit to cover normal cleaning costs. However, if cleaning costs are abnormal, the landlord may be able to keep a portion of the deposit.

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