How To Make Use of Security Deposit Agreements

Standardized Legal Documents How To Make Use of Security Deposit Agreements

Putting the Secure in Security Deposit Agreements

When you sign a residential lease agreement, it usually comes with a security deposit agreement. Security deposit agreements are documents used to protect landlords in case of property damage and tenants when landlords wrongfully withhold, increase, or deduce deposits.

Sounds a little confusing? You want to protect yourself but don’t know how to write legal documents or contracts? DoNotPay will help you learn more about how security deposit agreements work and how to make them on your own.

Why Are Security Deposit Agreements Important?

Landlords should use security deposit agreements when they are leasing a property to someone they don’t know or trust. If any damage to the property occurs while the lease agreement is in effect, landlords can rely on the deposit to cover the expenses.


Tenants should use these agreements to ensure consumer protection and to avoid unreasonable deposit deductions by the landlord.

Remember that landlords must refund the entire deposit amount if they do one of the following:

  • Fail to deliver a complete receipt within a month of getting the deposit
  • Fail to put the deposit in a separate bank account
  • Don’t allow tenants to see their deposits and repairs records
  • Request from tenants to give up their security deposit rights
  • Fail to deliver an itemized list of deductions and repairs
  • Don’t return the deposit balance at all

How To Make a Security Deposit Agreement From Scratch

DoNotPay is here to guide you through the drafting process and help you create a security deposit agreement on your own.

Every security deposit agreement needs to state the following:

  1. Deposit amount—the exact deposit amount you will pay your landlord
  2. Deposit storage—some states, like Massachusetts, require the money to be held in escrow. If your landlord doesn’t inform you where they’re storing the deposit, they lose the right to keep it
  3. Interest rate—in case the landlord deposits the money in an interest-bearing bank account, they must inform the tenant of the interest rate
  4. Deposit deductions—all the reasons the landlord can keep a part of or the entire security deposit
  5. Deposit return—the deadline to return the money to the tenant after they move out. In some states, the law regulates those deadlines

Deposit Amount Limits and Return Periods

Depending on your state, amount limits and return deadline regulations can vary. Take a quick look at security deposit limits and return periods in different states that you should mention in your agreement:

State Security Deposit Limit Time Limit for Return
Alaska Two months’ rent (no limit if monthly rent exceeds $2,000)
  • 14 days with a notice of termination
  • 30 days without notice or if there are deductions
California
  • Two months’ rent for an unfurnished property
  • Three months’ rent for a furnished property
21 days
Connecticut
  • Two months’ rent for lessees under 62
  • One months’ rent for lessees that are 62 years old and older
30 days after lease termination
Florida No limit Within 30 days of a written notice
Illinois No limit
  • 30 days from the day a tenant moves out if there are deductions—obligatory written notice
  • 45 days after a tenant moves out, if the landlord intends to return it in full—written notice not necessary
New York
  • No limit
  • One month’s rent for rent-stabilized property
14 days from the time the tenant moves out
New Jersey One and a half month’s rent—the landlord can increase it but not more than ten percent per year
  • 30 days after the lease gets terminated or a tenant moves out
  • 15 days if a tenant moves out because they’re a domestic violence victim
  • Five days in case of an accident, natural disaster, or condemnation of property
Ohio No limit 30 days of the tenant moving out

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When the budget’s a little tight, but you need help with legal documents, DoNotPay can help you make them in a few steps:

  1. Open DoNotPay in your web browser
  2. Type in the name of the document you want to create
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Once everything is set, we will send you your custom document.

You can draft all kinds of documents on our platform, including:

What To Do if You Don’t Get Your Security Deposit Back

If you didn’t get your security deposit back, do this:

  1. Fill and copy a Request for Return of Security Deposit form
  2. Mail the form to your former landlord via certified mail and request a return receipt
  3. Save that receipt as proof of your request notice
  4. Wait seven days for the landlord to respond

If your landlord doesn’t answer or refund the security deposit after the seven-day notice, you can sue them in small claims court with the help of DoNotPay—a recipient of the prestigious ABA Brown Award for Legal Access.

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