The end of a lease can be a stressful time, especially when it comes to getting your security deposit back. A security deposit is a sum of money that a tenant pays to a landlord at the beginning of a lease as a way to protect the landlord against any damages to the rental property.
Here are some tips on how to get your security deposit back at the end of your lease:
Know the laws in your state: Each state has different laws regarding security deposits, so it’s important to know what applies to you. Some states have limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit, while others require landlords to place deposits in a separate bank account.
Follow the terms of your lease: Make sure to follow all the terms of your lease, such as paying rent on time and not causing any damages to the property. This will help ensure that your landlord has no grounds to keep your security deposit.
Document the condition of the rental property: Before you move in and move out, take pictures or video of the rental property to document its condition. This will provide evidence of the condition of the property when you moved out and can be helpful if there is a dispute about damages.
Clean the rental property: Make sure to clean the rental property before you move out. This includes things like sweeping and vacuuming floors, wiping down counters and surfaces, and making sure the property is free of any personal items.
Repair any damages: If you caused any damages to the property, make sure to repair them before you move out. This can help prevent any disputes with your landlord over the security deposit.
Communicate with your landlord: Keep in touch with your landlord throughout the process of moving out. If you are able to come to an agreement about the condition of the property, it may be easier to get your security deposit back.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of getting your security deposit back at the end of your lease. It’s important to remember that a security deposit is meant to protect the landlord, but as long as you have followed the terms of your lease and have taken care of the property, you should be able to get your security deposit back.
Landlords have different time periods for returning security deposits, and these time periods can vary depending on the state in which the rental property is located. In general, however, landlords are required to return a tenant’s security deposit within a certain number of days after the tenant has moved out and returned the keys to the rental property.
In many states, landlords are required to return security deposits within 30 days of the tenant moving out. However, in some states the time period may be shorter or longer. For example, in California, landlords must return security deposits within 21 days of the tenant moving out, while in New York, landlords have up to 14 days to return security deposits.
If you are a tenant and have not received your security deposit back within the time period required by your state’s law, you may want to contact your landlord or consider taking legal action to recover the deposit.
You will get your security deposit back faster in New York
In New York, landlords are required to return a tenant’s security deposit within 14 days of the tenant moving out and returning the keys to the rental property, unless the landlord provides the tenant with a written statement of any deductions made from the deposit within that time period. The written statement must list the specific deductions made from the deposit and the amount of each deduction. If the landlord makes deductions from the deposit, they must return the remaining portion of the deposit to the tenant within 14 days of the tenant moving out.
If the landlord does not provide the statement within 30 days, they must return the full amount of the security deposit to the tenant.
Furthermore, per New York’s 2019 changes to rent regulations, landlords are not allowed to charge more than 1 month’s rent in security deposit to begin with. Those same changes also mandated minimum notice periods in the event of non-renewal or rent increases greater than 5% per the NYC Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants.
What about in Florida?
Per the 2022 Florida Statutes, landlords are required to return a tenant’s security deposit within 15 days of the tenant moving out if the landlord does not intend to impose a claim on the security deposit. If the landlord intends to keep some or all of the security deposit, they must provide the tenant with a written notice via certified mail to his or her last known mailing address of the landlord’s intention to impose a claim on the security deposit and the reason for doing so.
The notice needs to have the below verbiage included:
This is a notice of my intention to impose a claim for damages in the amount of upon your security deposit, due to _______. It is sent to you as required by s.83.49(3), Florida Statutes. You are hereby notified that you must object in writing to this deduction from your security deposit within 15 days from the time you receive this notice or I will be authorized to deduct my claim from your security deposit. Your objection must be sent to (landlord’s address).
If the landlord fails to give the required notice within the 30 day limit, the landlord forfeits his or her right to impose a claim on the security deposit. However, the landlord may still file an action for damages after returning the security deposit.
Pro Tip: Some left-leaning locales like NYC have very strict rules around security deposits. Check out our NYC rent security deposit laws overview to learn more.
To ask for your security deposit back, you will need to contact your landlord or property manager. Here are some steps you can follow:
Review your rental agreement or lease to see if it specifies any conditions that must be met in order for you to get your security deposit back.
Gather any documentation that supports your claim that you are entitled to a full or partial refund of your security deposit. This might include receipts for repairs or cleaning services you paid for, or photos that show the condition of the rental property when you moved out vs when you moved in.
Write a letter to your landlord or property manager requesting the return of your security deposit. In the letter, state the amount of the deposit, the date you moved out, and any relevant information about the condition of the rental property when you left. Be sure to include copies of any documentation you have gathered.
Keep a copy of the letter for your own records and send the original letter to your landlord or property manager by certified mail, so you have proof of when it was sent and received.
If you do not receive a response or your security deposit within a reasonable amount of time, you may need to take further action, such as mediation or small claims court.
Remember to check the laws in your state to see if there are any specific requirements for the return of security deposits.
If your landlord doesn’t proactively reach out to you about returning your security deposit, make sure to send them official correspondence per the notice provisions in your lease agreement. For example, while leases often will provide a mailing address for official correspondence, many leases these days will also allow for email.
In your letter, make sure to include the following information:
Your name and contact information
The full address of the rental property
The date that you moved out
A link to photo and/or video documentation
The amount of the security deposit
A request for the return of the security deposit
How to politely ask for your security deposit back
Here is a sample letter that you can use to politely request the return of your security deposit:
I am writing to request the return of my security deposit in the amount of [amount of security deposit].
I moved out of the rental property at [address of property] on [date you moved out]. According to the terms of our rental agreement, I am entitled to the return of my security deposit, as I left the property in good condition and did not cause any damage.
I would appreciate it if you could please process the return of my security deposit as soon as possible. If you need any additional information or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at [your phone number] or [your email address].
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
At the end of your apartment lease, you should get your security deposit back in full unless there is damage to the apartment or if you owe any unpaid rent or other charges. If there are damages to the apartment or unpaid charges, the landlord can use your security deposit to cover those costs. Note that many states have laws which prevent landlords from using the security deposit to cover unpaid rent, i.e. they can only deduct damages from the security deposit and must sue to recover unpaid rent.
The amount of the security deposit that you can expect to get back will depend on the terms of your lease agreement and the laws in your state. Some states have laws that limit how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit and how the deposit must be handled.
Generally, a landlord is required to return the security deposit to the tenant within a certain time-frame (such as 15 or 30 days) after the tenant moves out, provided that the tenant has fulfilled the terms of the lease and left the apartment in good condition.
If there are damages to the apartment or other charges that the landlord is entitled to deduct from the security deposit, the landlord should provide the tenant with a written itemized list of the damages and charges, along with the amount of the deposit being withheld to cover them. The landlord is required to return any remaining portion of the deposit to the tenant.
If you were on good terms with your landlord, didn’t cause any property damage, and left the property in “broom-swept” condition, then you should expect your full security deposit back.
What counts as ordinary wear and tear?
Ordinary wear and tear refers to the expected deterioration that occurs to a rental property as a result of normal use over time. It is distinguished from damages, which are caused by the tenant’s neglect or abuse of the property. Examples of ordinary wear and tear might include:
Fading or discoloration of paint or wallpaper due to sunlight
Minor scuff marks on walls or baseboards
Loose tiles or grout