A security deposit is any money given to the landlord by the renter to protect the landlord against non-payment or damages to the leased premises. The total amount of the security deposit may not be more than two month's rent. Te landlord must place the security deposit in an interest bearing account at a bank. The interest is returned to the renter with the deposit at the termination of the lease.
You have a legal right to receive a receipt for the security deposit. The receipt could be either a written clause in the lease or a separate document. You also have the right to request a written list of damages existing in the apartment at the time you take possession. You can exercise this right only by making a written request to the landlord within days of occupancy as specified in each individual lease.You may also make your own inspection, although this should not replace your written request to the landlord. Be sure that the landlord's list includes all damages you have noted during your own inspection. At the end of your tenancy, you have the right to be present when the premises are inspected for damages. This right, however, must be requested by certified mail within lease specified time prior to the date of moving. Include your intention to move, the date of your move, your new address, and your desire to be present for the inspection.
There is no guarantee that your security deposit will be returned to you. The landlord may withhold all or part of the deposit for nonpayment of rent, damages to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and utility or other bills the tenant may have neglected to pay. The landlord can withhold or deduct money only for actual damages. To minimize the possibility that your deposit will be unreasonable withheld:
- Keep a copy of your lease and all correspondence;
- Make sure you obtain a receipt for your deposit;
- Keep all receipts/ canceled checks for rent payments; and
- Send correspondence to your lanlord by certified mail or take a copy to the landlord and obtain a written receipt.