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.
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
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:
- Deposit amount—the exact deposit amount you will pay your landlord
- 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
- Interest rate—in case the landlord deposits the money in an interest-bearing bank account, they must inform the tenant of the interest rate
- Deposit deductions—all the reasons the landlord can keep a part of or the entire security deposit
- Deposit return—the deadline to return the money to the tenant after they move out. In some states, the law regulates those deadlines
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)||
||30 days after lease termination|
|Florida||No limit||Within 30 days of a written notice|
||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||
|Ohio||No limit||30 days of the tenant moving out|
When the budget’s a little tight, but you need help with legal documents, DoNotPay can help you make them in a few steps:
- Open DoNotPay in your web browser
- Type in the name of the document you want to create
- Provide relevant information to our chatbot
Once everything is set, we will send you your custom document.
You can draft all kinds of documents on our platform, including:
- Non-Disclosure Agreement
- Bill of Sale
- Child Custody Agreement
- Non-Compete Agreement
- Prenuptial Agreement
- Operating Agreement
- Independent Contractor Agreement
If you didn’t get your security deposit back, do this:
- Fill and copy a Request for Return of Security Deposit form
- Mail the form to your former landlord via certified mail and request a return receipt
- Save that receipt as proof of your request notice
- 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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