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What is a Security Deposit Return Letter?

As a responsible landlord, you're returning what's owed on a tenant's security deposit after they move out. To make sure there are no misunderstandings and to help document the transaction, it's important to create a Security Deposit Return Letter. 
 
If you're a landlord, a Security Deposit Return Letter protects you and shows you've met legal responsibilities. If you're a tenant it confirms that your security deposit was returned and explains any deductions made from the deposit. A Security Deposit Return Letter creates a record of the date and the amount returned and serves as proof that a tenant's deposit was returned. State law requirements also may require it when returning your tenant's deposit. The Security Deposit Return Letter shows state law requirements were met. It serves as protection from any future claims with an itemized list of deduction and why each was made.

When to use a Security Deposit Return Letter:

  • You want to return a tenant's security deposit.
  • You want to provide a tenant with a written notice of the deductions taken from the tenant's security deposit.

Sample Security Deposit Return Letter

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,

 

 

,

 

Re: Return of Security Deposit

 

Dear ,

 

This letter concerns our Lease Agreement, dated , in which you leased the property located at , , (the "Property"). On , you paid a security deposit in the amount of .

 

I have made deductions from the security deposit as follows:

 

Reason for Deduction:

Amount:

 

The remaining balance of the security deposit is , which is returned to you here along with this letter. If you object to any of the above deductions from your security deposit, you must state your objection in writing to the address above within days of receiving this letter.

 

My signature below indicates that I have sent this letter to the above tenant at his or her last known mailing address.

 

 

_______________________________

 

If the tenant ended the tenancy by giving proper notice, the landlord must return the security deposit, and written statement of deductions, if applicable, the tenant has 30 days from the date the landlord became aware that the premises had been abandoned to deliver the security deposit and written statement of deductions to the tenant.

 

Security deposits must be returned to tenants within 35 days of the lease terminating, or of the tenant surrendering the premises to the landlord.

 

The security deposit can only be used by the landlord to pay for the tenant's unpaid rent, or any damages resulting from the tenant's breach of the lease. If the landlord uses the deposit in such a manner, the landlord must provide a written accounting of the charges to the tenant, along with the remainder of the security deposit, within 60 days if the termination of the tenancy.

 

Under Arizona law, you must return the tenant's security deposit, with an itemized statement of deductions, within 14 days after the tenant has moved out of the property.

 

In California, the security deposit cannot be nonrefundable. However, when the tenant moves out of the property, California law allows you to keep part or all of the security deposit in any one of the following situations are met:

  The tenant owes rent;

  The tenant has damaged the property (beyond normal wear and tear);

  The tenant left the property less clean from when they moved in; and

  The tenant has failed to restore personal property (such as keys or furniture).

In any of the above has occured, you must provide the tenant with an itemized statement of the deductions. You must also must give notice to the tenant of the deductions before actually deducting the amount from their deposit. This allows the tenant to dispute any charges if need be.

 

In California, you must either return the full amount of the deposit or provide the tenant with the itemized statement of deductions within 21 days after the tenant has vacated the property.

 

Security deposits must be returned to the tenant within 30 days of the termination of a lease or tenant's vacating the premises. Security deposits may be withheld to cover unpaid rent, unpaid utility bills, repair work and extraordinary repair costs. Security deposits may NOT be withheld to pay for repairs due to "ordinary wear and tear". If a landlord wrongfully withholds any part of a security deposit, they are liable for three times the amount wrongfully withheld, as well as court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees. The City of Boulder requires that interest be paid on security deposits when the deposit is returned to the tenant, and sets annual percentage rates.

 

Connecticut requires that security deposits be placed in an escrow account, and requires that simple, non-compounded interest be paid on the deposit, at the rate set annually by the state. Security deposits may only be used by the landlord to cover unpaid rent, other lease charges, or damage beyond normal "wear and tear".

 

The District of Columbia requires that landlords place the deposit into an interest-bearing escrow account. The security deposit (and interest thereof) can be used to pay for whatever has been established by the lease agreement. At the end of the tenancy, the landlord has forty-five (45) days to return the deposit and interest, or to notify the tenant of a withholding. If there is a withholding, the landlord must provide the tenant with an itemized list of deductions to be made, and has an additional thirty (30) days to return the balance of the deposit.

 

The security deposit can only be used by the landlord for the following reasons: To pay for damages to the premises beyond normal "wear and tear" to cover unpaid rent; to reimburse the landlord for any expenses caused by early termination of the lease.

 

If the landlord is not entitled to all or any portion of the security deposit, the landlord shall remit the security deposit within 20 days of the expiration or termination of the rental agreement.

 

Within 20 days after the termination or expiration of any rental agreement, the landlord shall provide the tenant with an itemized list of damages to the premises and the estimated costs of repair for each and shall tender payment for the difference between the security deposit and such costs of repair of damage to the premises. Failure to do so shall constitute an acknowledgment by the landlord that no payment for damages is due.

 

Under Florida law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 15 to 60 days after the tenant has vacated the property, depending on whether the tenant disputes any deductions taken out of the security deposit. Florida landlords must provide tenants advance notice of any deductions from the deposit.

 

Under Georgia law, you must return the deposit within 15 days after the tenant vacates the property if you are returning the full deposit. If you plan to make any deductions, then you must send a written itemized list of deductions within 30 days of the tenant's departure; and you must account for and refund the balance of the deposit, if any, within 30 days after that.

 

Security deposits can only be used by the landlord to pay unpaid rent, other charges from breach of the lease, for damages beyond normal "wear and tear". If the security deposit is used for any of the above, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written account of the expenses, along with the remaining balance of the security deposit, within fourteen (14) days of the end of the tenancy.

 

Deposits can be used to cover unpaid rent, damage beyond regular "wear and tear", the cost of eviction when the tenant held the property in bad faith, and broken leases. Any amount not used for the above purposes must be returned to the tenant within 30 days of the tenant ending the tenancy.

 

Security deposits may be used for anything other than normal "wear and tear" on the premises. Idaho state law requires that security deposits must be returned to tenants within 21 days of the lease terminating or of the tenant surrendering the premises to the landlord, unless the landlord and tenant both agree to extend the deadline. In no event can the deadline for the landlord returning the security deposit to the tenant be more than 30 days.

 

Under Illinois law, for properties with five or more units, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 to 45 days after the tenant moves out — depending on whether the tenant disputes deductions taken out of the security deposit or if an itemized statement and receipts are provided by the landlord.

 

In Indiana, there's no limit to the amount you can charge as security deposit. The only requirement is that you return the security deposit, along with an itemized list of damages and/or deductions (if any) to the tenant within 45 days after they've vacated the property.

 

Security deposits can only be used for unpaid rent, damages beyond normal "wear and tear" and breaches of the lease. If a landlord uses the security deposit for any of the above reasons, they must provide the tenant with a written accounting of the charges, as well as the remaining money, if any, within 30 days of the end of the tenancy.

 

Kentucky law allows the landlord to keep the security deposit if the tenant does not claim a refund of the deposit. If the tenant claims the security deposit, the landlord must return it within thirty (30) days. If the tenant does not claim the security deposit within sixty (60) days of abandoning the premises, the landlord may keep the security deposit.

 

Security deposits may be used to cover unpaid rent, defaults under the lease, or for damages to the property other than normal wear and tear.

 

Security deposits must be returned to tenants within one month of the lease terminating, or of the Tenant surrendering the premises to the landlord, unless tenants wrongfully abandon the premises.

 

Under Massachusetts law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has vacated the property.

 

In Maryland, the security deposit must be deposited in an escrow account for the sole purpose of maintaining the deposit. If the deposit is more than $50, the landlord must pay the tenant simple interest, accrued every six months from the date the tenant gave you the deposit.

 

You'll have 45 days from the date the tenant moves out to return the deposit plus any interest, minus any damages withheld. If you withhold any part of the deposit, you must give the tenant a written list of damages, with a statement of what it actually cost to repair those damages.

 

The security deposit, or surety bond if used in lieu of a security deposit, may be used to cover damages caused by the tenant, but may not be used to pay for normal "wear and tear". If the landlord uses any part of the security deposit, a written list of deductions must be provided to the tenant, along with the remaining balance of the security deposit, within 30 days of the end of the tenancy.

 

Under Michigan law, after the tenant vacates the property, the landlord must return the security deposit within 30 days. The tenant is required to provide the landlord with a forwarding address within four (4) days.

 

Security deposits must be returned to the tenant(s) within 3 weeks (21 days) of the tenant returning their keys and leaving the rental property. Landlords in Minnesota must also pay 1% simple noncompounded interest on the security deposit per year.

 

At the end of the lease, the landlord has 30 days to return the security deposit with an itemized list of damages for which any portion of the deposit is kept.

 

During that 30-day period, the landlord must notify the tenant of the time and date when they plan to inspect the property. The tenant has the right to be present during the move-out inspection.

 

In Mississippi, security deposits may be used only to cover costs from tenant's breach of lease, damage over normal wear and tear, or unpaid rent. If used for any of the above purposes, the landlord must provide the tenant with an written accounting of the deductions.

 

Security deposits not used as permitted above must be returned to the tenant within 45 days of the end of the tenancy.

 

Under Montana law, security deposits can only be used to pay for damages to the property, cleaning of the property, damages from breach of the lease, or unpaid rent. If the landlord wants to use any of the security deposit for cleaning the property, they must deliver to the tenant a written list of all cleaning that needs to be done, and allow at least 24 hours for the tenant to complete the cleaning. The tenant cannot be charged for the cost of providing the cleaning list.

 

If there aren't any deductions made, or cleaning lists prepared and delivered, the security deposit must be returned to the tenant within ten (10) days of the end of the tenancy. If there are any deductions made, the landlord may take up to thirty (30) days to return the security deposit, and must include an itemized list of all deductions of all charges made against the security deposit.

 

Under North Carolina law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has moved out. If the landlord's claim against the deposit can't be finalized within that time (for example, if necessary repairs haven't been completed), the landlord may send an partial, incomplete, accounting at the 30-day point and then a final accounting within 60 days.

 

Under North Dakota law, security deposit may only be used as follows: to pay for any damages to the property from the tenant's negligence; to cover unpaid rent; or for the cost of cleaning needed to return the property to the condition it was in at the start of the lease, other than the costs of replacing ordinary "wear and tear".

 

If the security deposit, or its interest, is used for any of those permitted reasons, the landlord must provide the tenant with an itemized list of all deductions, along with the remaining security deposit and interest, if any, within thirty (30) days of the end of the tenancy.

 

Security deposits can only be used to cover breaches of the lease, damage beyond normal "wear and tear", and unpaid rent. If the deposit is used for any of the above reasons, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written, itemized, accounting of the expense at the end of the tenancy, within 14 days' of the tenant demanding return of the deposit.

 

Under New Hampshire law, the landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant (with interest due, if any) within 30 days from the end of the tenancy. If there are any damages to the premises, other than reasonable wear and tear, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written, itemized list of deductions made with the remaining balance of the security deposit, and interest.

 

Under New Jersey law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has vacated the property, but within five days in case of fire, flood, condemnation, or evacuation.

 

If the landlord required a security deposit of greater than one (1) month's rent, the landlord must pay annual interest on the security deposit at the rate established by the state of New Mexico. The deposit may be used only to pay for damages resulting from the tenant's breach of the lease, unpaid rent, or damages beyond normal "wear and tear". If the landlord uses the security deposit in such a manner, they must provide the tenant with a written accounting of the deductions, along with the remainder of the security deposit (if any) within thirty (30) days of the end of the tenancy.

 

Under New York law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within a reasonable time after the tenant has vacated the property. Most courts define reasonable to be within 21-45 days of vacating the premises.

 

Under Nevada law, a security deposit can only be used to pay for unpaid rent, damage beyond normal "wear and tear", and cleaning of the property. If the deposit is used for any of the above reasons, the landlord must provide a written accounting of the expenses to the tenant with the remainder (if any) of the security deposit within thirty (30) days of the end of the tenancy.

 

Under Ohio law, you must return the security deposit within 30 days after the tenant moves out. If the amount is less than the full deposit, then a written itemized statement of all deductions must be included as well.

 

The security deposit can be used to cover unpaid rent, breaches of the lease, or damages to the property that are more than ordinary "wear and tear". The deposit or what remains of it after paying the above expenses, must be returned to the Tenant within 31 days of the tenant ending his tenancy.

 

The security deposit, or what remains of it after paying the above expenses, must be returned to the tenant within 31 days of the tenant ending their tenancy.

 

Under Pennsylvania law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has vacated the property.

 

The landlord can only use security deposit funds to cover a breach of the lease, unpaid rent or for damages to the property that are more than ordinary "wear and tear". If the landlord uses the security deposit in any of the ways listed above, the tenant must receive an itemized list of the deductions when they receive the remainder of the security deposit. The deposit and list, if applicable, must be delivered to the tenant within 20 days of the end of the tenancy.

 

Security deposits may be used to cover unpaid rent, or for damages to the property other than normal wear and tear.

 

Security deposits must be returned to tenants within 30 days of the lease terminating, or of the tenant surrendering the premises to the landlord.

 

The security deposit can only be used by the landlord to cover unpaid rent, damage over normal wear and tear, other money owed. The security deposit must be returned to the tenant within two (2) weeks of the end of the tenancy.

The security deposit can only be used by the landlord to cover unpaid rent, damage over normal wear and tear, other money owed. The security deposit must be returned to the tenant within two (2) weeks of the end of the tenancy.

 

If any portion of the security deposit was used by the landlord, the tenant may request a written statement showing the specific reason for the withholding of the deposit or any portion thereof. landlord shall provide such a list within forty-five (45) days of the end of the tenancy.

 

Under Tennessee law, once a tenant moves out, the landlord has three (3) days to inspect the property and provide the tenant with a list of any damages and the estimated cost to repair those damages. Once landlord and tenant agree on the damages and the cost to repair, the landlord has 30 days to return the tenant's security deposit.

 

Under Texas law, the landlord must return the tenant's security deposit or provide the tenant with a statement of the charges within 30 days after the tenant has moved out.

 

Under Utah law, a security deposit can only be used to cover unpaid rent, breach of the lease, damage beyond normal "wear and tear", and extraordinary cleaning. If the deposit is used for any of those reasons, the landlord must give the tenant a written account of the expenses along with the remainder of the deposit within thirty (30) days of the end of the tenancy.

 

Under Virginia law, a security deposit, along with any interest, must be returned to the tenant within forty-five (45) days after the tenancy ends, along with an itemized accounting of all deductions made.

Under Virginia law, a security deposit, along with any interest, must be returned to the tenant within forty-five (45) days after the tenancy ends, along with an itemized accounting of all deductions made.

Under Vermont law, a security deposit can only be used by the landlord to pay for unpaid rent or utility bills, or to cover damages from the Tenant's breach of the lease, or to repair damages to the property, other than normal "wear and tear" caused by the tenant.

 

If the security deposit is used for any of the above reasons, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written, itemized list of the deductions at the time that the landlord returns the security deposit to the tenant. The security deposit must be returned within 14 days of the end of the tenancy, unless the property is a seasonal vacation rental not intended as a primary residence, in which case the landlord has up to 60 days to return the security deposit and itemized list, if any.

 

In Washington, you must provide the tenant with an itemized list of deductions (if any) and their deposit within 14 days after the end of the tenancy.

 

The landlord has 21 days after the end of the lease to send the tenant either the full security deposit or an itemized list of deductions. If the landlord doesn't return a deposit or the itemized list within 21 days, then the Tenant may begin legal proceedings. Landlords may never deduct for "normal wear and tear" or for other losses that the tenant is not responsible for.

 

If the landlord returns the security deposit in the form of a check, all tenants' names should be on it unless tenants indicate otherwise in writing.

 

Under West Virginia law, security deposits may be used only to cover costs from tenant's breach of lease, damage over normal wear and tear, or unpaid rent. If used for any of the above purposes, the landlord must provide the tenant with an written accounting of the deductions.

 

Security deposits not used as permitted above must be returned to the tenant within sixty (60) days of the end of the tenancy, or within forty-five (45) days of the next tenant occupying the premises, whichever is shorter. If there are more expensive damages to the premises than the security deposit can cover, and the landlord needs to hire a contractor, the landlord may extend the notice period by 15 days.

 

The security deposit must be returned to the tenant within thirty (30) days of the end of the tenancy or fifteen (15) days after tenant provides the landlord with a forwarding address, whichever is later. If the landlord requires a utility deposit, the deposit must be returned within ten (10) days of the tenant showing that all utilities are paid in full. Absent such a showing within forty-five (45) days of the end of the tenancy, the landlord shall have fifteen (15) days thereafter to apply the utilities deposit to the outstanding utility debt incurred by the tenant. The remaining utility deposit shall be returned to the tenant within seven (7) days of paying the utility bills, or within fifteen (15) days after the landlord receives the tenant's new mailing address, whichever is later.

 

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