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A tenant hopes to receive their full security deposit when they move out, particularly if they did everything the landlord required as stipulated in the lease agreement. Sometimes that doesn't happen, and the landlord deducts a portion of the security deposit to do repairs.

Landlords request tenants to pay a security deposit before moving in to motivate them to pay their rent and abide by the lease terms. The security deposit also ensures any significant damage a tenant causes can be repaired by the landlord without losing their revenue.

On the other hand, some landlords take advantage of the opportunity to keep your money by withholding your security deposit without a justifiable reason. This practice is illegal under tenant-landlord law, and you can sue in small claims court for a refund.

According to tenant-landlord law, if a tenant causes considerable damage to the property, the landlord can deduct the repair cost from the security deposit. Different state laws distinguish between this damage and natural wear and tear and protect the tenant from paying for damages from the latter.

It is essential to read your lease agreement before signing and understand your responsibility to ensure you get your security deposit back. This article will go over five reasons to keep an eye out for in order to protect your security deposit.

What Can Landlords Deduct From the Security Deposit?

When a tenant moves into a new apartment, they will find the place in good condition because the landlord has cleaned it and has made repairs. They may have also fixed damages the previous tenant caused and deducted that from their security deposit. Legally, landlords can deduct money from a tenant's security deposit if they encounter the following issues.

1. A Tenant Breaks the Lease

A tenant would face this consequence for breach of contract, such as forfeiting their security deposit for moving out before the end of their lease term. If it was included in the lease agreement, you might not get your security deposit back—even if you give a 30 to 60 days notice, although these tenant rights may vary from state to state.

Tenant-landlord laws support the landlords' decision to deduct from a tenant's security deposit for breach of contract. You can talk to your landlord about potential alternatives, such as subletting the apartment for the remainder of the contract.

2. Meaningful Property Damage

Most lease agreements stipulate that it is the tenant's responsibility to take care of the rental space and leave it in the same condition they found it. Some minor changes from wear and tear are expected, and the landlord should not pass the costs to you. Extreme damages that will cause your landlord to deduct from your security deposit include:

  • Broken doors, windows, and cabinets
  • Severely torn carpets and curtains
  • Missing smoke detectors
  • Broken appliances due to negligence
  • Accumulated stains, mold, or dirt

If you leave with these damages, your landlord will deduct a large portion of your security deposit to pay for the costs of repairs. Another option is to repair the damages before moving out to protect your security deposit and avoid being overcharged.

3. Unpaid Rent or Utilities

A landlord has a right to keep the security deposit if a tenant vacates the property with rent arrears and pending utility fees. However, tenant-landlord law does not permit the tenant to cover their rent with the security deposit.

Essentially, you cannot tell your landlord that you will not pay rent, and they should deduct it from your security deposit. You need to continue paying rent until your contract ends. Your landlord's responsibility is to give you back your security deposit 10 to 21 days after you move out.

4. Unclean and Messy Property

A well-written lease agreement clearly shows how a tenant should leave the apartment after moving out. Some contracts require tenants to clean the rental space and clear all garbage. If you move out and leave the apartment in a big mess, the state law allows the landlord to offset the cleaning charges with your security deposit.

Some landlords inflate cleaning costs to keep more money. To avoid this problem, take a photo of the rental area after you leave to confirm the condition in which you left it. A well-organized landlord will offer you a list of items that need to be cleaned before you go, as well as a price tag for each section if you leave it uncleaned.

5. Left Behind Large Items

Some tenants avoid moving out with large items that they do not need and deliberately leave them for the landlord to dispose of. The landlord has the right to deduct the cost of removing large items such as a couch, bed, and mattress from your security deposit.

You could incur more charges for leaving them behind, making it a good idea to call a junk removal company or give it to a charity organization that picks up donations for free.

What Can Landlords Not Deduct from a Security Deposit?

Every rental property undergoes wear and tear, and your landlord cannot pass the cost of a natural process on to you. The tenant's responsibility is to regularly clean and maintain the rental space, and it is the landlord's responsibility to repair the normal wear and tear.

Your landlord cannot deduct from your security deposit the cost of the following effects of normal wear and tear:

  • Faded curtains, paint, and wallpaper
  • Replacement batteries for smoke detectors
  • Some amall holes from nails
  • Warped doors caused by temperature changes
  • Furniture marks on the floor
  • Broken appliances not caused by misuse
  • Partially clogged drains and sinks due to old pipes

Read more: What a landlord cannot do

LawDistrict provides a lease agreement template that simplifies the contractual process. It has a provision for the landlord and tenant to indicate their respective responsibilities to ensure the security deposit remains intact. Follow the steps provided and enter a legally binding and reliable lease agreement.

Create a Residential Lease Agreement

A tenant hopes to receive their full security deposit when they move out, particularly if they did everything the landlord required as stipulated in the lease agreement. Sometimes that doesn't happen, and the landlord deducts a portion of the security deposit to do repairs.

Landlords request tenants to pay a security deposit before moving in to motivate them to pay their rent and abide by the lease terms. The security deposit also ensures any significant damage a tenant causes can be repaired by the landlord without losing their revenue.

On the other hand, some landlords take advantage of the opportunity to keep your money by withholding your security deposit without a justifiable reason. This practice is illegal under tenant-landlord law, and you can sue in small claims court for a refund.

According to tenant-landlord law, if a tenant causes considerable damage to the property, the landlord can deduct the repair cost from the security deposit. Different state laws distinguish between this damage and natural wear and tear and protect the tenant from paying for damages from the latter.

It is essential to read your lease agreement before signing and understand your responsibility to ensure you get your security deposit back. This article will go over five reasons to keep an eye out for in order to protect your security deposit.

What Can Landlords Deduct From the Security Deposit?

When a tenant moves into a new apartment, they will find the place in good condition because the landlord has cleaned it and has made repairs. They may have also fixed damages the previous tenant caused and deducted that from their security deposit. Legally, landlords can deduct money from a tenant's security deposit if they encounter the following issues.

1. A Tenant Breaks the Lease

A tenant would face this consequence for breach of contract, such as forfeiting their security deposit for moving out before the end of their lease term. If it was included in the lease agreement, you might not get your security deposit back—even if you give a 30 to 60 days notice, although these tenant rights may vary from state to state.

Tenant-landlord laws support the landlords' decision to deduct from a tenant's security deposit for breach of contract. You can talk to your landlord about potential alternatives, such as subletting the apartment for the remainder of the contract.

2. Meaningful Property Damage

Most lease agreements stipulate that it is the tenant's responsibility to take care of the rental space and leave it in the same condition they found it. Some minor changes from wear and tear are expected, and the landlord should not pass the costs to you. Extreme damages that will cause your landlord to deduct from your security deposit include:

  • Broken doors, windows, and cabinets
  • Severely torn carpets and curtains
  • Missing smoke detectors
  • Broken appliances due to negligence
  • Accumulated stains, mold, or dirt

If you leave with these damages, your landlord will deduct a large portion of your security deposit to pay for the costs of repairs. Another option is to repair the damages before moving out to protect your security deposit and avoid being overcharged.

3. Unpaid Rent or Utilities

A landlord has a right to keep the security deposit if a tenant vacates the property with rent arrears and pending utility fees. However, tenant-landlord law does not permit the tenant to cover their rent with the security deposit.

Essentially, you cannot tell your landlord that you will not pay rent, and they should deduct it from your security deposit. You need to continue paying rent until your contract ends. Your landlord's responsibility is to give you back your security deposit 10 to 21 days after you move out.

4. Unclean and Messy Property

A well-written lease agreement clearly shows how a tenant should leave the apartment after moving out. Some contracts require tenants to clean the rental space and clear all garbage. If you move out and leave the apartment in a big mess, the state law allows the landlord to offset the cleaning charges with your security deposit.

Some landlords inflate cleaning costs to keep more money. To avoid this problem, take a photo of the rental area after you leave to confirm the condition in which you left it. A well-organized landlord will offer you a list of items that need to be cleaned before you go, as well as a price tag for each section if you leave it uncleaned.

5. Left Behind Large Items

Some tenants avoid moving out with large items that they do not need and deliberately leave them for the landlord to dispose of. The landlord has the right to deduct the cost of removing large items such as a couch, bed, and mattress from your security deposit.

You could incur more charges for leaving them behind, making it a good idea to call a junk removal company or give it to a charity organization that picks up donations for free.

What Can Landlords Not Deduct from a Security Deposit?

Every rental property undergoes wear and tear, and your landlord cannot pass the cost of a natural process on to you. The tenant's responsibility is to regularly clean and maintain the rental space, and it is the landlord's responsibility to repair the normal wear and tear.

Your landlord cannot deduct from your security deposit the cost of the following effects of normal wear and tear:

  • Faded curtains, paint, and wallpaper
  • Replacement batteries for smoke detectors
  • Some amall holes from nails
  • Warped doors caused by temperature changes
  • Furniture marks on the floor
  • Broken appliances not caused by misuse
  • Partially clogged drains and sinks due to old pipes

Read more: What a landlord cannot do

LawDistrict provides a lease agreement template that simplifies the contractual process. It has a provision for the landlord and tenant to indicate their respective responsibilities to ensure the security deposit remains intact. Follow the steps provided and enter a legally binding and reliable lease agreement.

Create a Residential Lease Agreement