The short answer is YES – your landlord is obligated to return your security deposit provided there was no damage to the property or any unpaid rent or taxes. When moving out of a rental property, it is common to want your security deposit as soon as possible.
However, some landlords often hesitate in returning the deposit or outright denial. Note that your landlord is mandated to follow your state law when handling your security deposit, using it for certain expenses, and returning it to you at a specific time.
As a tenant, here are the things you can do to ensure you get your money back in one piece.
- Plan Ahead
Whether you’re paying annually or month to month, it is paramount to give your landlord a legally-required notice to end your tenancy if you have no plan of renewing it. Do this three to one month of parking out, and make sure you have a copy of the notice and send it by certified mail, with the return receipt requested.
- Know your entitlements
Depending on your state, your landlord is held to the strict guideline as to how and when to return the security deposit. Failure to adhere to the provisions of the law attracts hefty penalties. Every state law is different, and it is important to know what’s obtainable in your case for the best course of action.
Some states set the deadline to two to three weeks after you move out, and your landlord is expected to forward the following:
- A statement showing how the deposit has been applied toward back rent, cleaning, and repairs.
- What’s left of your security deposit, including interest accrued as required by your state
- And finally, a list of deductions before they were made.
- Follow up with your landlord
If you’re dissatisfied with how your landlord is handling the situation, or perhaps the landlord broke some state laws, try to work something out. If you both agree, you might get some of your deposit back.
Take note that the agreement is legally binding, and your landlord risks being sued if he fails to honor the provisions of the agreement. In cases where you’re trying to follow up with your landlord but it just doesn’t work, write the landlord a demand letter requesting the return of the deposit.
- Sue in a small claims court
If the landlord defaults in the agreement with no plan of ever agreeing, you can file a lawsuit in a small claims court. Sue for the amount of security deposit that your landlord is wrongfully holding, including interest if your state demands it.
Sometimes you can’t do it alone, and that is why numerous tenants or renters who found themselves in this ugly rut work with an experienced and licensed attorney. We have been helping our clients get back their security deposit, and we can help you too. Give us a call, or fill our contact form.