Security deposits are one-time upfront deposits which most landlords require tenants to pay before they move into a rental unit. Landlords hold security deposits as a guarantee that tenants will pay their bills and keep their rental unit in good condition.
If a landlord thinks the rental property has been damaged by a tenant or their guests during the tenant’s lease—or if a tenant has failed to pay any rent, utility bills, or other fees for which the tenant is responsible under their lease—the landlord may refuse to return all or part of a tenant’s security deposit refund.
Landlords who withhold all or part of a security deposit refund are required to provide their tenant a list of each individual charge, or damage and its cost. This is called an “itemized list.” Landlords are not allowed to withhold any money other than these costs from a security deposit refund for any reason.
Tenants have the right to dispute any costs their landlord withholds from their security deposit refund.
By state law, landlords are required to return a tenant’s security deposit within 21 days of the tenancy ending, but this becomes a bit more complicated depending on how a tenancy ends.