What To Do If Your Landlord Doesn't Return Your Deposit
A security deposit is a common necessity when you are renting a property. That deposit is held while you are renting the property and returned when you move out, as long as you have left the property in the condition you received it. If you are wondering what to do if a landlord doesn't return your deposit, you can take steps to help get that money back.
Renters must remember that they have a certain set of rights guaranteed by the state in which they live. If your landlord is holding your deposit for reasons that you think are unfair, you can take steps to get your money back. If you don't know where to start,
What Are My Rights as a Tenant?
Renting a property comes with responsibility, but it also comes with rights that landlords cannot violate. In most states, renters have rights that protect the tenant from landlords that are predatory or mismanaging their properties.
When it comes to security deposits, a tenant should not have to pay an excessive amount to be able to move in. In some states the security deposit is limited to two or three times the monthly rent, however, many landlords set the security deposit at the same monthly rate you will be paying. Your lease may require you to pay first month, last month, and security deposit up front.
Tenants should also expect a timely return on their deposit—on average, this is about 30 days. This can be shorter or longer, depending on the state's rental codes or the timeframe specified in the lease. If your deposit is not returned by this date, you will want to take steps to get your deposit back.
Security Deposit Laws
Laws regarding security deposits will vary depending on where you live. However, many states have similar laws regarding security deposits, including:
- Maximum allowable limits – some states limit the maximum amount of a security deposit to two or three times the monthly rent
- The ability for landlords to deduct from the security deposit for excessive damage or filth
- The ability for landlords to collect unpaid rent from a security deposit
- Prompt return of security deposit – states allow anywhere from 21 to 60 days to return a deposit to the former tenant
Here are some essential things that every tenant should know about their states rental laws:
|How to get a security deposit back||State eviction laws and protections||Dispute resolution laws for repairs|
|Dispute resolution laws for roommate disputes||How to break a lease early||How to get your security deposit after vacating a property|
How to Get Your Deposit Back
A deposit should be returned to a tenant on average 30 days after the move out date, unless otherwise specified in the lease. In most cases, normal wear and tear to a property will not decrease the deposit that is returned. The only way a deposit isn't returned is if you either owe back rent or if the property has suffered significant damage that is deemed to be caused by the tenants.
If your landlord is refusing to return your deposit, you can take these steps to get your money back.
1. Check for Specifics in the Lease
If you have not received a deposit back, you will first want to check your lease to see the specifics about the deposit. Most leases include a 30-day window to return a deposit, pending inspection of the vacated property.
2. Speak to Your Landlord
Sometimes a gentle reminder can work with landlords. The deposit could have simply been overlooked and contacting your landlord will help move the process along. However, if your landlord is refusing to return the deposit, you need to ask why they are holding it and where in the lease they have reason to do so.
3. Write a Demand Letter
A demand letter is a formal request to get your deposit back. This letter should explain that you have moved out on a specific date and the amount of money you are requesting to be returned. If you need help writing a demand letter, DoNotPay can walk you through the steps.
4. Take the Issue to Small Claims Court
When nothing else works, a small claims court can help determine which party deserves to keep the deposit. You will have to bring your lease, photos of the property, and other evidence that help you establish your right to have your deposit back.
Get Help with Your Security Deposit from DoNotPay
If you are , you may not be sure what to do next. In many cases, a demand letter can make a big difference, whether you need to get money back or evict a roommate. If you don't know how to create a demand letter, DoNotPay can help you out.
Sending a Demand Letter with DoNotPay:
- 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 Do?
DoNotPay doesn't just help with DoNotPay can provide help with a variety of tasks. Some of these common tasks include:
- Standardizing legal documents
- Notarizing documents
- Finding missing money
- Taking someone to small claims court
If you have to take care of these types of tasks, DoNotPay has quick and easy steps to walk you through the process.