Security Deposit Laws
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Requirements and Limits of Security Deposits
Every state allows landlords to collect a security deposit when a tenant moves into a property. The purpose of security deposits is to assure that a tenant pays rent on time and keeps the property in good condition. Half of the states place limitations on how much a security deposit can be. In addition, there are usually limitations on how a security deposit can be used by a landlord.
How Large of a Security Deposit Can My Landlord Require?
In half the states, there is no limitation on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. The other half of the states do place restrictions on how much your landlord can charge and these restrictions vary from state to state. On average, landlords are restricted to 1 to 2 months rent as a security deposit. Here are some examples:
- Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas: No limitation on security deposits
- California: 2 months' rent if the unit is unfurnished and the tenant does not have a waterbed
- Arizona: One and a half months' rent, unless the tenant agrees to more
- Massachusetts: 2 months' rent
- New Jersey: One and a half months' rent
How Much Time Does My Landlord Have to Return My Security Deposit?
Yes. These rules vary from state to state, but the general rule is that landlords must return your security deposit to you within some specified amount of time, usually 14 to 30 days, after you move out. Here are some examples of how long a landlord has to return a deposit:
- California: 3 weeks
- Florida: 15 to 60 days depending on whether the tenant disputes deductions
- Illinois: 30 to 45 days depending on whether the tenant disputes deductions
- New York: Reasonable time
- Texas: 30 days
Can My Landlord Deduct Money from My Deposit?
Landlords are allowed to make deductions from your security deposits, but only for damages to the property or other special circumstances. Landlords are also usually required to provide itemized accounts for any deductions with payment of the balance of the deposit.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Security Deposit Issue?
Landlord-tenant law is constantly changing and can be very complicated. An experienced landlord-tenant attorney can answer any questions you have about the law in your state regarding security deposits. A landlord-tenant attorney also can advise you if you decide to bring a case against your landlord for violating laws regarding security deposits including wrongfully withholding a security deposit.
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Last Modified: 01-08-2014 02:52 PM PST
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