HOW DOES A TENANT OBTAIN A FULL REFUND OF A SECURITY DEPOSIT?

September 13, 2013

 

It is extremely important that the provisions  in a lease relating to a refund of a security deposit be followed except to the extent that they may conflict with the statutory law.  However, generally, absent other provisions in a written lease, the following procedure should allow the Tenant to receive a full refund of the security deposit:

     a.  Full performance of all of tenant’s obligations under the lease through the termination date, including the payment of all rental and other sums owed under the lease (it is unlawful for the tenant to require the landlord to use the security deposit to cover the last month’s rental under the lease);

b.  Vacate the dwelling in good condition, normal wear and tear excepted;

c.  Provide the landlord with a forwarding address where the deposit may be returned; and

d.  Comply with any other reasonable conditions, such as returning all keys to the premises and the removal of any allowable fixtures from the dwelling and repairing any damage that may be caused by the removal of the fixtures.

Interesting Note: If the tenant timely complies with all preconditions required to obtain a refund of the security deposit, the landlord is required, absent a valid excuse, to refund the entire security deposit within thirty (30) days of the tenant’s vacancy of the dwelling.  If the landlord fails to return the complete security deposit, he is required to provide the tenant with an itemized statement of account as to how he applied the security deposit within thirty (30) days of tenant’s compliance with all of the conditions above; however, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant with the itemized statement if the tenant owes rent and there is no controversy about the amount of rent owed.

Tenant may be entitled to $100.00 plus three times the portion of the deposit wrongfully withheld, and the Tenant’s reasonable attorney’s fees for Landlord’s bad faith retention of tenant’s security deposit.

A landlord who does not provide the itemized statement or the full refund of the security deposit forfeits the right to withhold any portion of the security deposit or bring suit for damage to the dwelling, and is liable for the tenant’s reasonable attorney’s fees in a suit to recover the deposit.

 

 

             R. Scott Alagood