You’re a good tenant, and you hope to get every cent of your security deposit back when you move out. A lack of knowledge regarding security deposit laws could result in your landlord legally retaining a portion of your deposit that you could have earned back had you known about the laws. As you prepare to move out, educate yourself on how you stand the best chance of getting all your deposit back.

Wear and Tear

A bit of wear and tear is normal while renting a unit. That said, you want to do your best to leave your unit in the same condition as it was in when you first moved in, if not better. Examples that surpass normal wear and tear include cracked bathroom tiles and burns in the carpet. Under such conditions, your landlord can retain a portion of your security deposit to make normal repairs.

Move-Out Inspection

Depending on the state you live in, you could have the legal right to be present when your landlord performs the move-out inspection to determine how much of a cleaning the unit needs and if there’s any damage. If you received and filled out a move-in statement, your landlord uses that to compare any damage present when you moved in with any damage present when you move out. Any damage not on the move-in checklist could necessitate your landlord holding on to a percentage of your rent to restore the space.

Unpaid Rent 

Say that you have unpaid rent when you move out. This could happen if you were legally evicted, if you were behind on rent when you moved out at the right time, if you remained in the unit past your lease-end date, or if you moved out without giving your landlord appropriate notice. If your landlord claimed that you had unpaid rent for any other reason, you may need to go before a judge like Judge Mike Tawil to sort things out and protect your legal rights.

Deposit Return Deadline

Usually, your landlord has 30 days to return your security deposit. In some states, that deadline ranges from 14 to 60 days, so do some research to see what the most current deadline is in your geographic location. When you get your deposit mailed to your forwarding or last known address, you should receive either your entire deposit or a partial deposit along with a list of itemized deductions for repairs, cleaning, or unpaid rent. Any deductions on the list should have a description to go along with them that includes something like a description of the damage, the necessary repair, and how much the repair cost.

You have the legal option to take your landlord to court if you feel that she or he unfairly deducted a portion of your security deposit, or if your landlord failed to return any of your deposit. Consider consulting with a legal professional to discuss your case and explore your options. Do not let unscrupulous landlords take advantage of tenants who do not know their rights.