What steps should the landlord take to keep or return the security deposit?

What to Say

If there is a reason for keeping any portion of the security deposit, the landlord must give the tenant a written statement listing the exact reasons for keeping it. These reasons may include damage to the unit or non-payment of rent or utilities, but may not include normal wear and tear to the unit. Along with this written statement, the landlord must return the difference between the security deposit and the amount retained.

How To Calculate the Amount to Keep

If the landlord is keeping any of the security deposit to cover damages to the unit in excess of normal wear and tear, the landlord should obtain written estimates or other knowledge of the actual costs of the necessary repairs. "Guesstimate" or "ballpark" numbers do not justify keeping a security deposit.


The landlord must return the full amount of the security deposit or deliver the written statement within one month after the lease terminates or after the surrender and acceptance of the unit, whichever occurs last. The lease may give a longer period of time, but never more than 60 days. If the tenant moves out because the landlord fails to timely repair a hazardous condition of a gas appliance, piping, or other gas equipment, the landlord must return the security deposit within 72 hours after the tenant moves out.

Where to Send

The landlord must mail the statement and any required payment to the last known address of the tenant. The tenant should leave a forwarding address with the landlord. If no forwarding address is given and the landlord has no further information about where the tenant is located, the landlord may send the statement and payment to the address of the unit.

Failure to Comply

If the landlord does not provide the written statement within the required time period, the landlord loses all rights to keep any portion of security deposit for any reason, even if the tenant damaged the unit or failed to pay rent. However, the landlord can still sue for actual damages.

Show All Answers

1. What is a security deposit?
2. For what reasons may the landlord keep the security deposit?
3. How much is the security deposit?
4. Must the landlord hold the security deposit in a special account?
5. When is the tenant entitled to a return of the security deposit?
6. How can the tenant prove the condition of the unit?
7. What steps should the landlord take to keep or return the security deposit?
8. What if the landlord fails to return the deposit?
9. Can the tenant waive the security deposit laws?
10. How much time does a tenant have to bring an action for failure to return deposit?
11. What happens to the security deposit when the landlord transfers ownership of the unit?