How to Get a Security Deposit Refund

iEditorial Note: These blog posts represent the opinion of DoNotPay’s Writers, but each person’s situation and circumstances vary greatly. As a result, you should make sure to do your own independent research. Because everyone is unique, our self-help tools are never guaranteed to help with any specific situation. DoNotPay is not a law firm and is not licensed to practice law. DoNotPay provides a platform for legal information and self-help.

How to Get a Security Deposit Refund in No Time

When you’re moving out of the apartment you’ve been renting, you have a lot on your mind. Getting your security deposit refund is bound to be on the list. Landlords can be sly when it comes to keeping that money—that belongs to you by law—so usually, you have to ask for it back, which is a nuisance enough.

If you’re experiencing this issue, read on to learn everything you need about security deposit refunds and how to get them.

Rental Security Deposit Refund—The Essentials

You know that your landlord is bound by law to give you the rental deposit back when you’re moving out—that is, if you haven’t violated the rental agreement or did anything that makes you ineligible for the security deposit refund. Because there are many details regarding security deposit laws, before you request a refund, you must know what your rights as a tenant are.

A rental security deposit is the amount of money your landlord collects from you when you move in. He or she holds that money in trust. It guarantees that they’re financially covered if you damage parts of the apartment or don’t pay the rent you owe.

Here’s an overview of how much a security deposit can cost in most states.

Types of Property

Security Deposit Cost Range
A commercial property

Can be as much as the landholder determines

A furnished residential property

Can be up to three times the rent
An unfurnished residential property

Cannot be more than two times the rent

Of course, security deposit laws vary from state to state. The most notable exception to the cost limitations is found in Texas and Illinois, where landowners can collect as high a security deposit fee as they want.

Another critical piece of information is that your landlord cannot use the security deposit for the last month of your rent if it wasn’t stated in the lease or you haven’t expressly agreed to it.

Rental Deposit Refund Laws

If you don’t know why your landlord is not returning the security deposit to you, they’re already violating most states’ rental deposit laws. When the landowner decides to keep either some part of or the entire security deposit, they are obliged to issue a formal letter listing the reasons why they're doing it.

In most cases, landowners can keep a portion of the deposit if:

  • You or your guests damaged an apartment, some of its furniture, or appliances
  • You haven’t paid your rent or utilities
  • The landlord needs to pay for the cleaning because you left the apartment in a worse state than you found it in

The price the landlord will have to pay for each of these cases is probably lower than the whole security deposit, so they must refund you the amount that they won’t use.

The landlords are bound to give you receipts of repairs, cleaning, or any other service they had to cover with your security deposit. This is called the list of deductions.

Your landlord is not permitted to deduct the amount of your deposit refund if the only “damage” is reasonable wear and tear.

When Does Your Landlord Have to Refund Your Security Deposit?

The deadline that is given to landlords for returning the deposit varies by law from one state to another. For example, in Texas and Virginia, the deadline is 45 days. In Vermont, it is much shorter—14 days. In California, landlords have 21 days to issue deposit refunds, but if any repairs are taking longer than that, the deadline can be extended. More on security deposit deadlines can be found here.

Security Deposit Receipt

Another factor to note is that your landlord is obliged, in most states, to provide you with a security deposit receipt. It is because the money you give them as a deposit is never theirs, and they should keep it in an interest-bearing account.

Usually, you should have received the receipt 30 days after moving in. Among other information, the security deposit receipt must contain the bank’s name in which the deposit is held and a yearly interest rate.

Requesting the Rent Security Deposit Refund From Your Landlord

The only way to request a refund for your paid deposit on your own is to write up a letter to your landlord. It may seem intimidating if you’re not legal-savvy. The deposit refund letter is supposed to be written in formal language and must include the strong points that help you win your case. All these are exactly the sort of issues you needn’t worry about when you go with DoNotPay.

If you want to write your dispute on your own, make sure you first learn how to construct a perfect security deposit refund letter.

Let the DoNotPay AI Consumer Champion Request Your Refund for the Security Deposit

Now, onto the part where you request a security deposit refund. Besides writing up a formal letter to your landlord, you can also let DoNotPay help you request a refund.

All you need to do is log in to your DoNotPay account from any , and take these steps:

  1. Click File a Chargeback
  2. Specify your bank details
  3. Provide your payment details
  4. Verify your request by a digital signature

As the first AI Consumer Champion in the world, DoNotPay then drafts you a winning security deposit refund letter.

Secure Your Next Apartment Deposit Refund in Advance

If you’re a renter in your next place too, you will want to do all you can to make sure the next deposit you pay is refunded to you.

To always be two steps ahead of your landlord, make sure to:

  1. Photograph the apartment as soon as you move into it
  2. Make your landlord fill in and sign a move-in checklist
  3. Go through each item on your rental agreement carefully
  4. Know the security deposit law in your state
  5. Inform your landlord of your moving out as soon as you make the decision
  6. Make sure your landlord has your forwarding address
  7. Clean the place thoroughly after you pack
  8. Photograph the apartment when you move out

Get Back at Your Landlord if They Mistreated You!

WashingtonPost covers DNP allowing people to send demand letters to companies

If your landlord doesn’t respond to your deposit refund letter, you have every right to take the issue to court. Security deposit disputes are handled in small claims courts, which is something DoNotPay can totally help you with!

Another problem tenants experience and that DoNotPay takes to heart and helps you with is landlord harassment.

Security Deposit Refunds Are Not Everything DoNotPay Can Help You With!

DoNotPay’s AI Consumer Champion is always right there at your fingertips. That way, we take care your customer rights are protected whenever you need assistance. You can access DoNotPay using your and pick any or administrative issue you want us to help you with, like:

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