What is the Purpose of the Security Deposit Demand Letter?
If you’ve already requested your security deposit back and the landlord is refusing or has not responded, there are still options. A Security Deposit Demand Letter will inform your landlord that unless he returns your security deposit within a short prescribed time frame you have the option of resorting to the legal remedies you have under the specific security deposit law of your state. Many tenants will just give up, but this can be several hundred if not thousands of dollars, and the law is usually on your side if you’ve kept the rental unit in good shape with just normal wear and tear.
What are Security Deposit & Damages To Your Rental Unit?
Landlords in most states must provide an itemized list of damages and in some must also provide the receipts for these damages. The list below contains the valid reasons (in most circumstances) for a landlord to keep a security deposit.
- You owe back rent or you didn’t give sufficient notice of vacating (normally 30 days advance)
- You have damaged the rental unit or property, some examples being:
- broken windows
- holes or deep gouges in walls
- major floor damage
- burns on the carpets
- self-fixes that went awry
- left the unit in an unhealthy habitat through excessive dirt and trash
- items left behind that need to be stored or disposed of by the landlord
If your rental unit only sustained the normal wear and tear of living then you have the right to a complete and speedy return of your security deposit. You can’t be made to pay for things like old paint, worn floors, or aging appliances. So if you’ve requested your security deposit back and the landlord is refusing or just not responding, you need to write a letter demanding it be returned and show him that you know the law and what additional damages he may be liable for under the security deposit laws in your state. Check out how we write this letter, the key points to remember, and all the formal letter details below. Then use our tried and tested letter and quickly edit it with your details. It only takes a few minutes to complete.
The Timeframe for Security Deposit Returns
Each state has their own required number of days that a landlord has to return a security deposit after move out. In most it ranges from 15 days to 30 days. If they do not send your deposit they are required to send the details of the damages they are claiming you incurred and in some states the must provide the verification/receipts of the repairs. When this timeframe passes and your landlord still refuses to refund your rental security deposit, or just ignores your polite request, you need to take the next step.
What are the Structure of Our Demand for a Security Deposit Return?
The Basics Letter Details
A security deposit demand letter is an important business correspondence and needs careful structure and content. Landlords take professionally written letters much more seriously than poorly written letters that lack the essential points and the accurate law. Missing information can provide them with a way to avoid payment.
This letter is opened using a standard letter head followed by the date which is very important as it states when you formally stated your deposit demand, and can be used later if things escalate. Indicating that the letter has been sent certified mail return receipt is highly recommended.
Incorporate State Specific Deposit Refund Laws & Regulations
Every state has its own timeframes and security deposit codes and regulations. We’ve carefully researched each state’s laws dealing with security deposits for landlords and tenants and incorporated them into our tenant letters. Landlords have thirty (30) days in most states to return a security deposit or provide a list of charges or deductions along with the remaining deposit delivered. After this time frame you are generally allowed to begin legal proceedings against a landlord. However, since this can be expensive and time consuming it’s best to send this deposit demand letter to more forcefully implore your landlord to return of your security deposit. The HomeTitan letters have been written and prepared with the latest laws incorporated.
The Letter Introduction (optional)
The letter introduction indicates the date you moved out and can additionally indicate the date the lease agreement began and the length of term contracted for. It should state that you’ve fulfilled the lease agreement and indicate clearly your reason for writing: demanding my security deposit return, fulfillment of deposit lease obligations, notice of not yet receiving my lease deposit, etc. Your landlord needs to see that you take this matter very seriously and that you are well aware of your rights with specific dates, laws, and the number of allowable deposit return days he has.
The Body Paragraphs
State directly what you paid and what you are owed, cite the lease if necessary. State that no damages were reported by the landlord and that the rental unit was maintained in accordance with the lease. Remind your landlord of the law concerning how many days he had to return your deposit and that this timeframe has now passed. You can go to the Government’s Housing and Urban Development Website for the necessary information .
If a walk through occurred you may wish to state the date and what damages were found if any. Also state what, if any, security deposit terms were agreed. If applicable indicate that you have previously written a request for your security deposit that was ignored or never responded to. Cite the law pertaining to a security deposit return and the legal ramifications that your landlord can be liable for within a short period of time (give him a week or two of additional time to return your security deposit).
Include your new address where payment should be sent to. Sign the letter, date it and make a copy for your records.
What are The Key Points To Remember When Writing a Damages Claimed Letter?
|The Security Deposit Demand Letter Key Points|
What are The Rental Repair Laws of Each State?
The Rental Repair Laws of Each State
California, New York, Florida, Illinois, Arizona; states have different laws and codes pertaining to security deposits timelines, reasons a landlord can withhold part or all of the deposit, and a landlord’s liability if they fail to refund a security deposit. Depending on the laws in your state, which our letters specify, your landlord has a certain number of days to return your deposit and can only keep it for specific reasons.
We’ve done all this research for you and have written letters for each state and incorporate that into our security deposit refund letter.
What are the Future Considerations When Renting?
If you’ve lost the deposit, for valid reasons or reasons beyond your control, take solace in knowing the law isn’t always fair and landlords aren’t always scrupulous. Let HomeTitan help you out in the future with our free checklists that you can use the next time you begin renting a home or apartment and with the tips below:
- As a tenant it’s your responsibility to report problems, damages, etc. as soon as they occur or are noticed. This minimizes the potential for larger issues and can limit your liability later on if the issue persists or creates a larger problem. Stay on top of any small minor repairs throughout your lease. If you don’t these things can often create larger repairs like rotting wood, infestations, structural failures, etc. and you can be held liable for these.
- You need to prepare in advance for the worst; a bad landlord, loss of documents, unkempt rental unit. etc. Things that could cause you to lose your deposit. So keep all your rental documents carefully organized and filed.
- Perform your own walk through of the premises just before or right when you move in. Even if things have been deemed in perfect condition by the landlord or lease, there could be issues he’s unaware of. Use a move-in inventory checklist, we have a great free one, that documents the conditions in every room. Show this to your landlord and have him sign it. If he balks at the idea just date it, sign it yourself and provide him with a copy. If you do notice any problem areas take digital pictures, that show the date, so that there can be no confusion at lease termination.
- By law in some states, landlords have to do walk-throughs before keys are returned. The landlord should give you notice of this and allow you to be there. This is your chance to fix any problems before the end of your lease and to avoid any damage claims. If there are any problems take pictures of them during the walk through and after you’ve fixed them, explain to the landlord exactly what you did. Use the checklist you made when you did your first walk through at the beginning of the lease if you have it.
- On your move out day:
- take photos of every room.
- If you can have the landlord do a final inspection of the rental unit.
- If possible try to arrange a day you can exchange your keys for your security deposit.
- If that’s not feasible have the landlord sign/date the checklist or a statement that verifies that the unit has no damages.
- Always give your landlord at least 30 days notice when moving and terminating your lease (if your rental agreement is different you may need to provide more time).
- Provide the landlord with written letter which has your new address.
- Leave the rental unit in a clean state.
What is Legal Escalation If The Deposit Demand Letter Fails To Get The Desired Response?
And what if your landlord won’t return the security deposit? Wait at least 14 days for your landlord to respond to your payment request or to make payment. If a response is not forthcoming you need to assume that your landlord is not acting in good faith. However, all is not lost and there are further actions you can take. Research your state law and see what options you have available. Many states allow you to sue for damages and many times you can do it in Small Claims Court which makes it much easier.