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Security Deposits

A landlord may require a new tenant to pay a security deposit before moving in. The law says that the security deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent. When the rental ends, the landlord can use the money to pay for cleaning, unreturned keys, property damage caused by the tenant, or rent that the tenant still owes. The landlord cannot deduct money from the deposit for expenses relating to the gradual deterioration of the property through normal, everyday use.

At the end of the rental period, the landlord has 14 days to return the security deposit. If a landlord keeps any of the deposit, the landlord has to let the tenant know in writing why the money is being withheld. If the landlord does not return the full security deposit within 14 days and does not let the tenant know why all or part of the deposit will be withheld, the tenant may go to Small Claims Court to get the deposit back. Small Claims Court is in the Civil Division of District Court.

Find out what your rental agreement says about security deposits. If it is different from the law, consult with someone who knows about landlord-tenant law. The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs can provide insight, or you may contact an attorney.