Can My Landlord Keep My Security Deposit?

Generally, a security deposit on a rental property is refundable. It is meant as a down payment to secure the property and withheld by the landlord until the time comes for the tenant to leave the premises.  This is only required by landlords to protect their interest, in case you’re unable to pay, left suddenly, damaged their property or some unforeseeable event happens that incurs them costs because of your actions.  Deposits are dependent on your contract and tenant laws implemented in the state you’re in though, so make sure to research those before you sign anything.

Tenant Laws Protect Your Security Deposit

There are specific instances when your landlord is allowed to keep your security deposit. This will often be stipulated in your in your contract. Here are some reasons you need to watch out for:

tenant laws

Not Paying Your Rent

Most stated will take the side of your landlord if you don’t pay your rent, especially if the amount you owe is over the security deposit that he’s keeping. Most contracts will also stipulate that nonpayment of rent is a breach of the lease. That entitles the landlord to take the amount you owe from the security deposit.

Terminating Your Lease Early

This will all depend if the contract you signed has an early termination clause and whether you broke it or not. Most property leasing contract protects that landlord against the tenant’s sudden decision to vacate the property. This is under the premise that you’ve already agreed to rent out the property for a specific period. By leaving, you’re taking away his source of income that he could have offered to another renter.

That’s why most contracts will require you to finish your full term of the lease. If you’re renting month by month, then the contract will usually require you to give an early notice – sometimes 2 week or 30 days prior. However, you will still be required to pay the full remainder of the lease, regardless of when you decide to leave. This is often taken from your security deposit. In some cases, the landlord is also allowed to deduct his costs for finding a new tenant from your security deposit, since your breach of contract is the reason why they need to find a replacement in the first place. Your landlord can even charge you for more, in case your security deposit does not cover all your costs.

Damage to Property

One of the most common reasons why landlords deduct from your security deposit is damage to their property. This is especially true if your rental came furnished. This cost does not typically include payments for the normal wear and tear of the furniture and fixtures of the home, such as loose handles, rusty pipes and a couple minor stains on the carpet. By damage, landlords usually mean large holes on the wall, water damage, broken doors and cracked counters.


This entry was posted in Blog, Real Estate Law and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.