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Learn about what landlords can use security deposits for

Get information on the appropriate uses for security deposits.

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 only:

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

Records of repair

What repair records does a landlord need to give to the tenant?

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

  • the landlord must provide to the tenant a detailed, itemized list of the estimated or actual cost of repair of damage to the property
  • the landlord must swear to the damage by signing the list under the pains and penalties of perjury
  • the landlord must provide the tenant with all written estimates, bills, receipts, etc. relating to repair of the damage
  • the landlord must 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.

Failure to provide the list and supporting documents to the tenant results in the landlord losing the right to retain any portion of the security deposit.  

What records does a landlord need to keep and for how long?

In addition to maintaining all records regarding the collection and holding of any security deposits, landlords who collect security deposits must also keep detailed records about the cost of repairs for which any portion of a tenant’s security deposit was retained, including all bills, receipts, and invoices. Security deposit records must be kept by the landlord for a period of 2 years following the end of every tenancy. Tenants and prospective tenants have a right to inspect these records. 


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