A security deposit is the money paid to the Landlord or the property manager when moving in. The deposit can be used to cover any unpaid rent, and the cost to repair damage above normal wear and tear after moving in.
A security deposit demand letter is a request made by a tenant to remind the Landlord or the property manager to refund the amount of money that was paid at the beginning of the lease term.
This letter is written only after the Landlord has failed to pay back the tenant within a State required time-frame.
Landlords require that tenants pay a one-off security deposit to protect against any damages done to the property by a tenant. If a tenant decides to move out of their property, they have to make sure that there are no damages. For this reason, a landlord will require the tenant to make a one-time security deposit to cover any losses that they might have been incurred during their time at the property.
It is a common scenario for landlords and property managers to return little to none of a security deposit. If the Landlord wants to deduct money for repairs from your security deposit, they are required to document the reasons why they are keeping part of the money.
However, the tenant can dispute the reasons if they have proof, in the form of photographs, and signed documents about the original condition of the property and the condition at the time of moving out.
How Do I Know Security Deposit Was “Wrongfully” Withheld?
Before accusing your Landlord of wrongfully withholding your security deposit, ask yourself these three questions:
- Were the charges raised by the Landlord reasonable or substantiated by proper documentation.
- Did you provide a notice to move on time, and was the notice received?
- Did the landlord issue you with a notice stating why a portion of your security deposit was withheld?
The Landlord/property manager is required by law to refund the deposit amount under the following conditions:
- If there is no damage to the property, return the entire security deposit to the tenant at the tenant’s new mailing address or call them to have them collect their deposit within 30 days of the lease termination or demand from the tenant.
- If there is damage to the property, issue the tenant with a written notice describing the damage and the exact amount of the deposit that was used to repair the damage.
- If the damage does not exceed, the amount of the security deposit withheld, what’s left of the deposit must be returned to the tenant within 30 days of the lease termination or demand from the tenant.
How Can I Avoid a Security Deposit Dispute?
As a landlord, ensure that your tenants perform a thorough inspection of the property before moving in. You can provide them with a conditional rental checklist for them to use when assessing the property.
Make sure that the checklist is comprehensive and includes each room. Make sure to go through the list with the tenant and sign the completed checklist and keep a copy for future reference. You can also photograph each room in the rental and any yard space and give a copy to the tenant.
What You Should Do to Protect Your Security Deposit
The following tips will give you a better chance of getting your security deposit back when moving out.
Before or when you move in:
- Make sure you are given a payment receipt of the security deposit and keep it safe
- Before moving in, use a checklist to assess the property and note down all the things and their condition and have the landlord sign it.
- Take photos of each room
When you are ready to move out:
- Issue a notice to your Landlord in writing informing them of your plans to move out.
- Return any property that needs to be returned, e.g., keys or gate pass, to the right person
- Ensure that the apartment is in good condition when you move out
To sue your landlord/property manager in small claims court:
If your Landlord fails to refund your security deposit after sending them a demand letter, your last option is to file a lawsuit against them. Steps to filing a lawsuit against your property manager/landlord include:
- Determine where to file the suit. You can seek legal advice from your attorney before filing the lawsuit.
- See if the court has any forms that you can fill out for you small claims case
- After filing the suit, the Landlord will then be issued with the lawsuit
- After they are served, they shall have up to 10 days to respond to your lawsuit. The Landlord can also offer a counterclaim against you.
- After which, the case will be set for trial
- After presenting your case, the judge will make a ruling
Reasons Why Your Landlord Might Deduct Money From Your Security Deposit?
A landlord is not allowed to deduct money from your security deposit based on normal wear and tear. Some of the reasons why your Landlord may deduct money from your security deposit include:
- The tenant has failed in keeping the plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit reasonably clean
- The tenant does not keep his residence in a safe and clean condition
- The tenant failed in adhering to applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety
- The tenant or his guests has disturbed another tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of their dwelling unit
- The tenant has destroyed deliberately or neglected, defaced or impaired, damaged or removed any part of the leased unit, or permitted any other party to do so.
How to Write a Security Deposit Demand Letter
If the Landlord has failed to refund your security deposit, you should write notify them by writing a demand letter. When writing a security deposit demand letter include the following information:
- The date of the letter
- The landlord’s/Property managers’ full name and address
- The address of the residence and the date you moved in
- A declaration that you had paid the full amount of your rent and that you are current with your payments
- Include a statement that you had issued the Landlord written notice of your move-out
- Give a brief description of the apartment’s condition to the Landlord as of the time you moved out.
- Explain that you have not been refunded your security deposit despite reaching out to the Landlord
- Include an exact amount of the security deposit you’re entitled to
- Your new address
- Demand immediate refund of the security deposit and provide a time limit for doing so
- Inform the Landlord that failure to heed to your request within the stipulated time limit that you shall be left with no other option but to take the matter to small claims court
- Provide your phone number
- Your signature and new address
Security Deposit Demand Letter Template
Name of the tenant
Address (city, postal code)
Name of the Landlord
Dear (name of the Landlord)
On XXX (day, month, year), I signed an agreement to lease your premises, which is located at XXX town. According to the agreement, I pay $ XXX as a security deposit with you.
According to the law, I was supposed to get a refund of the security deposit within thirty days after the lease termination. Kindly be aware that I know my rights, and if I do not receive the security deposit funds by XX (provide date), I will report the matter to the relevant bodies.
Please send my deposit as soon as possible to the given address below. For more inquiries, contact me at the number given below.
Security Deposit Demand Letter Sample
92 Vierra Avenue 2495
Cruz Saza SA, 906060
I am writing you this letter to request you to return my security deposit as required under the law. As you are aware, until 25/02/2010, I lived in apartment 19B at Mahogany Street and did not miss even a single month to pay my rent.
After 30 days’ notice, I left the apartment without any damages done on the building and cleaner as it was when I moved in. As of 01/04/2010, I have neither received my security deposit of $2000 nor a call from you regarding the above. The security deposit is two months overdue. Kindly know that I am aware of my rights under the stated and failure to send my security deposit, I will take actions and sue you for my $2000, plus any damages allowed by the law.
Kindly mail my deposit to the address given below, for any inquiries you can contact me using the number provided below.
92 Vierra Avenue 2495
- MS Word
Frequently Asked Questions
Before taking the matter to small claims court, make sure that you have enough evidence to support your claim. If you left the property in bad condition or if you owe the landlord money, then the Landlord might instigate a claim for the damages or the money you owe the Landlord to counter your claim for the security deposit.
If the Landlord decides to sell the property during your lease, the Landlord must either refund you the full amount of your security deposit or give it to the new owner.