A security deposit is a sum of money (usually equal to one month’s rent) paid by a tenant at the beginning of the lease term. It is separate from rent and is meant to protect the landlord in the event there is unpaid rent or damage to the premises at the end of the lease term. The lease will set forth the conditions under which the security deposit is returned to the tenant at the end of the lease term. Document any damage to the premises before you move in by photographing the premises. If there are significant repairs that need to be made or appliances that don’t work, make a list of all of them and have the landlord sign the list so there is no dispute when you move out.
Tips for the Security Deposit
- If the home has been treated for bed bugs, or if the property has lead based hazards, the landlord must tell you. They also must provide you with a list of existing damage, if any.
- Take pictures when you move in or out to avoid any issues.
- The money must be returned to the tenant in a reasonable time, about 30-45 days after you move out.
- If they do make a deduction, there must be a sworn list made by the landlord explaining them. They need to provide evidence and include documentation of the cost of cleaning or repairing damage.