When a tenant supplies a landlord with a security deposit at the beginning of his or her apartment lease, he or she generally expects to see that money back. However, security deposit disputes may arise when the security deposit is not returned in full, especially if the refund is subject to a statutory deadline. Several common issues may arise as the result of a dispute over security deposit refund.
A security deposit is the refundable advance a tenant makes on his rent, in order to cover repairs or costs associated with renting. Deductions from a security deposit are itemized with the refund, which must be paid within a certain timeframe (known as a statutory deadline) after the tenant moves out. Disputes often arise due to security deposits not having been returned during the statutory deadline. Other disputes may arise over what constitutes “normal wear and tear” to an apartment, which may not be deducted from a security deposit, and what constitutes damage. In some states, security deposits must be saved in an interest-bearing account and returned to tenants with security deposit interest, and failure to do so may result in a dispute.
Landlords are required by law to refund the security deposit over before the statutory deadline. Oftentimes, deductions will be itemized on a security deposit settlement statement, which lists deductions made and the reasons for deductions. Contact must be made to the last known address of a tenant so that the tenant cannot complain of never having received their security deposit refund. Should the landlord not send the security deposit within the prescribed time period, many states have Request for Return forms that may be sent to landlords by certified mail.
If you’re convinced that you’ve done everything right, a lawyer can help you get back your security deposit. Contacting a lawyer for consultation is the best way to ensure that you’re not being taken advantage of by a landlord.