Can I use my security deposit for my last month’s rent?
What can a landlord do if I use my security deposit for last months’s rent?
Many tenants want to know if they can use their security deposit to pay their last month of rent. At the end of a rental term many tenants and renters may need some extra cash to get another rental property and wonder if they can use their security deposit for the last month of rent. From a legal standpoint you are not allowed to do this even though many people do. I have done it on numerous occasions and the landlord could not do much about it. You do open yourself up to potential legal and financial liability, and you should always ask a lawyer what you can be liable for because every state is different.
So let’s say you are not going to pay last month’s rent and you tell the landlord. Where you need to be careful is to make sure you are leaving the rental premises in the condition you found it minus normal wear and tear. A security deposit in most instances is to compensate the landlord for any unpaid rent, fees, charges or damage done to the property. Many tenants believe they are leaving the property the way they found it, but that is not always the case. You should get the apartment professionally cleaned if possible and remove everything from the property including any garbage. If there are items that you broke, fix them.
TAKE PICTURES OF THE WHOLE RENTAL PROPERTY. You may need them later if the landlord claims you caused damaged to the premises. If you follow these steps the landlord will generally not have any recourse to come back after you unless you live in one of the few states that prohibit this.
Also make sure you give the landlord the proper amount of notice when you are leaving as prescribed by the lease or your state law. There is a timeframe usually within your lease, or prescribed by law, dictating the amount of time you must provide notice for when you are leaving a rental property. If you have a year lease which just terminates at the end of lease term no notice is necessary, but it is always good to let the landlord know when you are moving out. The best course of action would be to bring the landlord in before you leave to do walk through the premises with you. This also gives you a chance to fix anything the landlord claims you damaged. While you may not want to do this because you are using the security deposit for the last month of rent, if you can you should. Also make sure you return your keys.
If there is no damage to the rental premises and you do not owe the landlord for any additional fees or charges you can probably get away with using the security deposit as the last month’s rent. If this is not the case the landlord will probably file an action in court to recover damages and it will look bad for you that you did not pay the last month of rent.
There are a few states where it is strictly prohibited (using security deposit as last month’s rent) so you always need to be careful and consult an attorney or local housing agency, if possible, or review your state law.