The landlord can deduct damages and missed rent from the security deposit, subject to state laws. For example, the landlord forfeits the ability to make deductions from the security deposit in DC if they miss a narrow deadline to do so. In some states, if tenants don’t provide the landlord a forwarding address, the tenant may forfeit their deposit.
State Security Deposit Laws
There is no federal law regarding security deposits, but nearly every state has detailed rules about how much a landlord can ask for in a security deposit and what they can deduct. See your state law for more details. Check back soon as we update this site with state-specific and local laws.
Maximum Security Deposit Amount
Many states have restrictions on the maximum amount of a security deposit, usually a maximum somewhere between one to three months of rent.
Many states require landlords to keep all security deposits in a proper escrow account which earns interest on behalf of the tenant. Failure to do so may cause the landlord to receive fines or forfeit their ability to deduct amounts from the deposit.
Some states fine landlords who act in bad faith and attempt to keep deposits on a fake pretense of repairs. Some states have severe penalties in such cases, sometimes requiring landlords to pay back double or triple the amount of the security deposit if it’s withheld improperly.
Receipts, Deadlines, and Inspections
Depending on the jurisdiction, landlords may need to provide receipts of deducted items, they may have strict deadlines on when an inspection for deductable fixes can take place, and they might need to provide tenants an opportunity to be present during that inspection. Other areas have no or few laws and allow landlords broad flexibility.
State and Local Laws
Laws differ heavily by state, county, and city. Use RenterPeace to see more specific laws for to a given apartment and to see comments from people in your area.
Documenting the Problem
For most problems, tenants should document their issues, notify their landlord (document this too!), and stay informed about their rights. Renterpeace is a free website that helps with each step of this process. Tenants use RenterPeace to more easily see applicable laws, track their problems, and much more. There's a reason RenterPeace was selected "Best of" legal apps for both Android and iOS. It also includes household management tools, like a chore manager and bill tracker. Try it - you don't even to login first.
Using Property Management
To stay updated and organized about the problems in their apartments, landlords should use a property management system. Many are expensive or have high setup fees, but using RenterPeace for landlords is free. It's complete with legal compliance tips targeted to their problems, maintenance tracking, tenant screening, money-saving grant information, and tenant chat. It makes managing properties easier and staying updated about status of rental properties a breeze. Try it today.