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Return of Deposit Rules

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As an apartment renter, it is imperative to know the return of deposit rules since one of the most costly parts of reserving an apartment for rent is the security deposit. The security deposit is often the same amount as the first month’s rent, paid at the time of signing the lease and held in reserve until you vacate the apartment. The security deposit is intended to provide the landlord with a sufficient amount of money in case you cause unexpected or excessive damage to the apartment, or in case you leave town without paying some or all of your rent. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous landlords have taken advantage of this, and give you a hard time when you try to get your deposit back. As such, most states have return of deposit laws regarding how and when the security deposit must be refunded.

Return of Deposit Laws

Each state has slightly different laws regarding how much security deposit money can legally be collected prior to renting an apartment building, as well as laws regarding how the security deposit money is to be kept while the tenant occupies the building. In addition, all states have laws regarding how the money is to be paid back, and in what time frame the money is to be paid back in – so your landlord typically cannot hold your security deposit forever without some compelling reason, such as damage to the property or proof that you owe him money.

Although the rules for return of deposit do vary, it is, however, possible to get a rough idea of how the laws will operate.

  • Some states, such as Alabama, have no legal guideline regarding repayment of a security deposit at the end of a lease.
  • However, Arizona requires repayment of the security deposit if there are no reasons to withhold it within 14 days of the move out date, while
  • Arkansas requires refund within 30 days of the move out date, as long as there are no damages or unpaid charges that would require the landlord to keep some of the money.

Many states also require that once you have moved out, the landlord must give your security deposit back to you within a certain period of time, unless there have been problems or damages, or the landlord will be responsible for paying you damages. In Pennsylvania, for example, the rules for return of deposit stipulate that if the landlord has no reason to hold your security deposit, he must pay you back in full within 30 days of the move out date or risk paying you triple damages (i.e., three times the amount of the security deposit) should you take him to court over the issue.

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