What Happens if a Landlord Fails to Return the Security Deposit in 21 Days?
If you paid for a security deposit when moving into your rented house, you have the right to get it back at the end of your tenancy or after 21 days of moving out. Your landlord can only fail to return the security deposit or part of it within the legal period if damages are repaired or items to be replaced.
You have the right to dispute the withholding of your security deposit through a court order. Use DoNotPay for an easier, faster, and more convenient way to .
How Long Does a Landlord Have to Return My Security Deposit?
Your landlord does not have to return your deposit before you move out or on the day you move out. However, the landlord should not take more than 21 days to return your security deposit after moving out.
If your former landlord takes more than 21 days to return your security deposit, you have the right to sue them. Before taking legal action against your former landlord;
- Ensure that your application for a security deposit refund is lawful
- to Understand why your landlord is withholding your security deposit
Steps to Take Before Applying for a Refund of Your Security Deposit
Before moving houses, ensure that you get evidence of the current house condition in case your landlord decides to dispute how much deposit you will get back. The evidence will help you fight for your rightful share of the deposit, depending on how well you maintained the house.
Before leaving the house, do the following:
- Take clear pictures of the interior and exterior of the house
- Get a check-out inventory and ask your landlord to sign it; highlighting the condition of every item in the house
Ensure that there is no loophole for your landlord to get entitled to your deposit by checking the following:
- You have paid your rent arrears in total
- You have repaired all damages on
- You have replaced every broken or lost item within the premises
Why Would My Landlord Withhold My Security Deposit?
Your landlord has the right to withhold your security deposit for the following reasons:
- You have outstanding rent arrears
- There are missing or broken items within the premises
- There are damaged or broken structures such as the ceiling, doors, etc
Your landlord should give you a valid reason for retaining your security deposit; in writing. The writing will give you leverage if you need to dispute the retaining of your money.
If your local council paid your security deposit, you may not get it back. If your landlord is entitled to some of your deposit, paid for you by the local council, you will have to repay the council an equal amount for the damages.
What Do I Do If I Don't Get My Security Deposit Back After 21 Days?
If your landlord has not refunded your security deposit after 21 days, you need to find out why they are withholding it. You should ask your landlord the following questions if they fail to give your money back:
- Why are you withholding my money?
- How did you calculate how much money to take from my deposit?
If your landlord used some of your security deposit to repay damages or buy a missing item in the house, you should ask for a quote of the compensation services to prove how much it cost.
If you still disagree with your landlord on the deposit refund, you can take legal action depending on the grounds you paid your deposit. Action to take on your landlord depends on whether your security deposit is protected or not, as explained below:
|Security Deposit Is Protected in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDP)||If your deposit is protected, your landlord ought to have informed you of the deposit protection scheme they used.|
|Unprotected Security Deposit||If you are living in students' halls or you are a lodger, your security deposit most likely lacks security. In instances where your deposit should be protected but it is not, you may be able to claim between 1 and 3 times the amount in compensation. However, you will have to account for any damages.|
The scheme can be either of the following:
- Deposit Protection Service
- My Deposits
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
To get your disputed security deposit, use the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service in your respective deposit protection scheme.
You can use the ADR services within three months of moving out. If you and your landlord come to an agreement through the ADR intervention, you will get a refund within ten days.
If your landlord refuses to work with ADR, you have the authority to take them to small claims court.
To dispute an unprotected security deposit, you will have to take your landlord to court. You have higher chances to win against your landlord if your security deposit needs to be protected, but the landlord fails to do so.
Get Your Security Deposit With the Help of DoNotPay
Getting your security deposit back by suing your landlord can be a very long process and may cost you a lot of money. If you are struggling with a security deposit dispute, DoNotPay is here to guide you through it and file your disputes on your behalf.
Our Landlord Protection product can help you:
- Get back your security deposits
- Learn about your state's eviction laws and what protections apply in your case
- Resolve disputes regarding repairs with your landlord
- Resolve disputes with roommates by filing demand letters or going through small claims court
- Break your lease early
DoNotPay Can Help You Break Your Lease Legally to Avoid Incurring a Penalty
If you decide to break your lease before the agreed time, you are bound to attract a penalty from your landlord. Your landlord might decide to withhold a portion of your security deposit to compensate for the lease-breaking penalty you incurred.
DoNotPay is the easiest, fastest and safest platform to help you break your lease legally without incurring a penalty. If you want to break a lease but don't know where to start, DoNotPay has you covered in 4 easy steps:
- Search for and open the Landlord Protection product on DoNotPay.
- Select which issue applies to you.
- Answer a simple set of questions so our chatbot can collect the necessary information to create your demand letter.
- 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.
And that's it! You should hear back from your landlord directly once your demands are sent.
What Else Can DoNotPay Help You With?
DoNotPay will help you with more than just a . We work with government entities and private companies to bring a myriad of other services to you faster, easily, and more conveniently.
Sign up to our website for these services and more:
- Sue anyone in small claims court
- Access standardized legal documents
- Notarize your documents
- Access the freedom of information act
- Find unclaimed money