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Find out what landlords can use security deposits for

Learn about how landlords can legally use security deposits.

Table of Contents

Reasons to use a security deposit

After a tenant moves out, the landlord may use all or part of the security deposit for:

  • Unpaid rent (unless the rent was validly withheld or deducted by the tenant) and, if applicable, water charges
  • Unpaid increase in real estate taxes (this only applies if the lease has a valid tax escalation clause)
  • The cost of repair for damages caused by the tenant, other occupants, or their guests (this doesn’t include pre existing damage or routine painting, carpet shampooing, etc. that takes place due to normal “wear and tear.”)

Providing repair records

If a landlord keeps any portion of a tenant’s security deposit, the landlord must:

  • Give the tenant a detailed, itemized list of the estimated or actual cost of repairing the property damage
  • Swear to the damage by signing the list
  • Give the tenant all written estimates, bills, receipts, etc. related to the damage repair
  • Give the list and supporting documents to the tenant within the same 30-day period of time the rest of the security deposit (if any) is due to the tenant after moving out or the end of the lease

If the landlord doesn’t give the list and supporting documents to the tenant, they will lose the right to keep any part of the security deposit.  

2 years how long a landlord must keep security deposit records after a tenancy ends.

In addition to maintaining all records related to collecting and holding security deposits, landlords who collect security deposits must also keep detailed records about the cost of repairs that any portion of a tenant’s security deposit was kept for, including all bills, receipts, and invoices. Landlords must keep security deposit records for 2 years after the end of the tenancy. Tenants and prospective tenants have a right to inspect these records.

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Last updated: January 11, 2021
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