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Find out what landlords can use security deposits for

Learn about the appropriate uses for 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 the following reasons:

  • Unpaid rent (unless validly withheld or deducted by the tenant) and, if applicable, water charges
  • Unpaid increase in real estate taxes (only applicable if the lease contains a valid tax escalation clause)
  • The cost of repair of damages caused by the tenant, other occupants, or their guests (does not include pre existing damage or routine painting, carpet shampooing, etc. that is performed because of normal “wear and tear.”)

Providing records of repair

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

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

If the landlord fails to provide the list and supporting documents to the tenant, they will lose the right to keep any portion 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 any 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. Security deposit records must be kept by the landlord for 2 years after the end of every tenancy. Tenants and prospective tenants have a right to inspect these records.

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Last updated: August 23, 2018

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