Landlords require security deposits to protect against any damage done to the property by a tenant. If walls are damaged, appliances broken, carpet stained beyond repair or a number of other property damage possibilities.
The landlord needs to have the damage repaired before he or she can rent to another tenant. It’s only fair that the tenant who damaged the property pay for the repairs. It is usually taken out of the security deposit.
It is not unusual for landlords and property management companies to return little or none of a security deposit. If the landlord wants to subtract money for repairs, he or she is obligated to document the reasons they are keeping part of the money.
The tenant can dispute these reasons especially if he or she has records, in the form of photographs and signed statements, about the original condition of the property and the condition at the time of vacating.
Before asking for a security deposit to be returned, the tenant must review their lease contract to make sure they are following the written agreements. If the tenant violates any agreements, he or she may not be able to get the full deposit back.
It is recommended that the tone of the letter be friendly and polite. This will increase the landlord’s willingness to comply. The tenant shouldn’t express anger or sarcasm in the letter. It should be to the point, but friendly.
The landlord should have examined the property at the time the tenant moved out and given a signed list of things that need to be repaired. The cost of these repairs will be subtracted from the tenant’s security deposit.
Whatever written agreement is given by the landlord, whether it is to return the whole sum or part of it, they are legally bound to do. If they don’t, the tenant is within his or her rights to send a security deposit return letter. If this letter doesn’t cause the landlord to return the deposit, the tenant can take the landlord to small-claims court to get the deposit back.
It is recommended that the tenant appeal to the landlord informally by phone or in person to return the deposit. If this doesn’t get results, a security deposit return letter will be required.
The letter should give a clear deadline when the deposit needs to be returned, after which the tenant will go to court. The deadline may be from five to 10 days and the last date should be mentioned. The letter should also state what will happen if the deposit isn’t returned by the given date.
If the tenant has to take further action, they should compile all the documents needed. These may include:
• Receipts and bank records that prove the deposit was paid
• Receipts and bank records that prove the full rent was paid and is not in arrears
• Photos of the property before the tenant moved in as well as photos when they moved out to prove that the property is in as good or better condition
Below is a sample security deposit return letter. It may be used as a legal document if the tenant needs to take the landlord to court, so it should be written in formal business-letter style and sent by certified mail, courier or other service that will give the tenant a return receipt. This receipt is proof that the letter was received.
Sample Security Deposit Return Letter
Name of Tenant
Current Address of Tenant
City, State, Zip Code
Name of Landlord
Address of Landlord
City, State, Zip Code
RE: Return of security deposit
Dear Name of Landlord:
I was your tenant at Address of Apartment for three years and always paid my rent on time. When I had to leave the state for a new job, I gave you the required 30 days’ notice in writing as well as my new address. Since I had the apartment professionally cleaned, and you agreed in writing that it was in good shape, I expected to get my full security deposit of $1,500 returned.
It has been three months since I moved out and I have not heard from you about my security deposit. I know my rights under the Name of State’s laws and expect to receive my money within 10 days of the date of this letter by DATE.
If I don’t receive the money or hear from you about the issue, I will be forced to take the matter to small-claims court and expect to get my deposit as well as any additional damages that are allowed under state law.
If you have any questions, you can reach me at Phone Number or at Email Address. Please mail my security deposit to the above address.