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Security Deposit: How to Get It Back From your Landlord

Looking to get your security deposit back from your landlord as quickly as possible? Whenever there is a dispute between the landlord and tenant, more often than not, it’s a disagreement over this topic.

All states will have specific laws governing the security deposit. Let us go over what a security deposit is, what it is supposed to be used for, and how tenants can recover the entire amount. The good news is that there really isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t be able to get your money back! After all, it is your money and should be deposited into a separate bank account by your landlord, if required by law.

Security Deposit: What is It

A security deposit is money that is to be held by the apartment management company/landlord to be used solely for damages caused to the property by the tenant. It should not be used by the landlord to pay bills or for other expenses.

Many renters falsely believe that it can be used to pay the last month’s rent. The only way this should be done is if you receive this in writing. Many landlords will require that renters put up the first and last month’s rent upon move-in. This is separate from the security deposit.

Usually, the security deposit will be equal to one month’s rent. Also if you decide to renew your apartment lease, and the rental amount is increased, you may also have to pay that additional amount so it equals the new security deposit.

What It Should Be Used For

As stated above, the security deposit can only be used to pay for damages. But there are different types of damages, and all are not equal.

Normal wear and tear can be defined as a common deterioration that a home or apartment experiences over the course of time. When tenants are coming and going, it can be expected that the property will diminish over time. Here are some examples of this type of wear.

  • Worn or loose doorknobs
  • Small scratches in wood flooring
  • Tiny stains in carpet from dirt and dust
  • Paint peeling away from the walls or ceiling
  • Dirty blinds
  • Faded or worn curtains

Don’t confuse damage with normal wear and tear. Also, negligence is a form of damage. Although you may not have caused direct damage, if you don’t take proper care, your security deposit can be used for these sorts of repairs. Here are some examples

  • Punch holes in the walls
  • Heavy scratches in wood plank floors
  • Deep stains in the carpet
  • Broken or shattered mirrors or windows
  • A malfunctioning dryer that resulted from not cleaning out the lint tray

Do this Before Moving Out

So you gave your landlord notice and you will be moving out. Be sure and schedule a walk-through. In simple terms, you will walk through the rental home with a member of the leasing staff or an appropriate person. They will be able to let you know what items are damaged and what will fall under normal wear and tear.

At this point, if there is damage, you have a few options. You can try and make the repairs on your own, you can pay for the repairs, or you can just let your landlord make them and use your funds in the form of the security deposit.

We also recommend taking photos of your apartment. Some leases will also charge cleaning fees for the carpet. We always recommend reading your entire lease before you sign the binding agreement. They shouldn’t charge you for cleaning fees if it’s not stated in your lease.

Why You Won’t Get Your Deposit Back

There are a few reasons you won’t get any of your money back.

  1.  For example, if you live in the state of Texas and you didn’t pay the last month on your apartments in Cypress, TX, then they will keep your deposit because you have not fulfilled the terms of the lease.
  2. The damage exceeds the amount of the security deposit. If there are quite a few damaged items, don’t expect anything back.
  3. You didn’t leave a forwarding address. The landlord won’t be required to send you anything if they don’t know where to send it.

Typical Rules the Landlord Must Follow

Many states will require that the landlord refund your deposit within a certain amount of time. Usually, 30 days is the barometer. Check the state you live in for specifics.

If they do use the security deposit to make repairs, they must send you an itemized list within this timeline. Sometimes copies of the receipts of the repairs may be required.

Final Takeaways

  • The security deposit is your money. It is not to be used for any other purpose than for repairs.
  • You shouldn’t think that you can use it to pay your last month’s rent.
  • The landlord should not charge you for normal wear and tear. That is the state law
  • Remember to leave a forwarding address so they can send you your deposit in the mail.

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About the Author

Kaya Wittenburg

Blog Author and CEO

Kaya Wittenburg is the Founder and CEO of Sky Five Properties. Since the age of 10, real estate has been deeply ingrained into his thoughts. With world-class negotiation and deal-making skills, he brings a highly impactful presence into every transaction that he touches.

He is here to help you use real estate as a vehicle to develop your own personal empire and feel deeply satisfied along the way. If you have an interest in buying, selling or renting property in South Florida, contact Kaya today.

Feel free to call me at: (305) 357-0635
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