A tenant security deposit is a deposit that a would-be tenant pays the owner of the rental property. The deposit amount may vary and in most states there is no limit to how much a landlord can ask from his or her tenant. The amount and the conditions of a security deposit refund are stated in a rental contract provided by the landlord. And as the tenant signs the contract, this means that he understands and agrees with the terms of the contract. The landlord will hold your security deposit in escrow.
A landlord keeps a tenant security deposit and returns it in case the tenant decides to vacate the property or if the landlord would want to terminate the lease contract. In case of a breach of contract or nonpayment of rent the landlord may keep a portion or the entire amount of the rental deposit.
Hopefully, a landlord does not have to use this deposit amount for the entire duration that the tenant occupies the property, however there are scenarios wherein he needs to deduct some expenses. Here are the most common deductibles:
- Non-payment of rent – this is when a tenant has rental money owing to the landlord.
- Non-payment of utility bills – a part of the deposit may pay due utility bills incurred by the tenant
- Cleaning expenses – this is only for major cleaning such as heavily damaged bathroom tiles and grout, carpet cleaning due to pet smells, etc.
- Major repairs – a part or the entire deposit amount may cover major repairs such as holes on the walls, heavily damaged hardwood, damaged water and lighting fixtures, etc.
How long does the landlord have to provide a security deposit refund?
Different states have different laws regarding how long a security deposit refund takes. Here are a few states that have rental laws that differ from one another. Keep in mind that these may have changed, so you will need to check the laws for your state.
- California – under California law, the landlord must return the tenant’s security deposit along with an itemized statement that contains any deductions that have been made within 21 days after the tenant has surrendered the keys and vacated the property.
- Colorado – under Colorado law, the landlord must return the tenant’s security deposit within a month unless there is an agreement between the tenant and the landlord of a longer time but it should not exceed 60 days. However if the tenant has vacated the property due to gas leaks, the landlord should return the deposit within 72 hours.
- Florida – under Florida law, a landlord must return the tenant security deposit within 15 to 60 days after the tenant has surrendered the keys to the property and has vacated the property. Landlords are required to provide tenants advance notice of the deductions that need to be taken from the rental deposit.
- Illinois – under Illinois law, if a landlord has five or more units, he has to return tenant’s security deposit within 30 to 45 days after the tenant vacates the property.
- Nevada – under Nevada landlord-tenant laws a landlord should return the tenant security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has vacated the property and has surrendered the keys to the property,
- New York – under New York law, a landlord must return the tenant’s security deposit within a reasonable amount of time after the tenant has surrendered the keys to the property and have vacated the property. The allowable number of days is from 21 to 45 days.
- Utah – under Utah law, the tenant rental security deposit should be returned within 30 days or within 15 days of receiving the tenant’s forwarding address.
- Washington – under Washington law, landlords should return the tenant’s security deposit within 14 days after the tenant has vacated the property.