Student Legal Services

When you are ready to move out of your rental unit, make sure that you:

  • Complete a move-out checklist
  • Remove all of your property from the rental unit
  • Clean the property
  • Take pictures and/or video to document the condition of the property
  • Within 4-days of move-out, notify the landlord in writing of a forwarding address indicating where to send the security deposit. (Keep a copy of this letter; you may want to send the letter certified with return receipt requested)

After you move-out, you will be expecting your security deposit.  A security deposit can be used to reimburse the landlord for actual damages to the rental unit that are a direct result of conduct not reasonably expected in the normal course of living in a rental unit. A security deposit can also be used to reimburse the landlord for unpaid utility bills and past due rent.  The landlord may not deduct from the security deposit for cleaning.

The process for the return of your security deposit is:

  • Within 4-days the tenant must notify the landlord in writing of a forwarding address indicating where to send the security deposit. (Keep a copy of this letter)
  • Within 30-days of termination the landlord must return the full security deposit, or send the tenant an itemized list of damages along with any undisputed money. The notice must contain a statement advising the tenant to notify the landlord within 7-days if s/he disputes the landlord’s claims. If your landlord does not contact you within 30-days you are entitled to a return of your full security deposit.)
  • Within 7-days of receiving the itemized list of damages, the tenant must respond to the landlord’s claim of damages in writing by regular mail.
  • Within 45-days from the time the tenant has vacated the property, the landlord can sue to retain any disputed security deposit money. If the landlord fails to sue to retain the disputed security deposit, the tenant may be entitled to double the amount of the deposit withheld.

The landlord does not need to sue to retain the security deposit if:

  • The tenant failed to provide a forwarding address; 
  • The tenant did not respond to the damage letter; 
  • The security deposit retained is for any outstanding money judgments or rent due for a period of time the tenant was in possession; or
  • The parties have agreed in writing regarding the disposition of the security deposit.

Getting more help

Please make an appointment to discuss any questions regarding your security deposit and/or the small claims process. To speak with Gayle Rosen, please call us at 734.763.9920.