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Security deposit laws by state
Learn more about how states dictate how your landlord must manage your deposit money
As a renter, you are likely wondering whether your potential new landlord is asking too much for the security deposit, what landlords can “take out” of your security deposit, and how landlords must manage your deposit refund after you move. Security deposit laws regulate how rental deposits are managed.
States may dictate how much your landlord can charge you for the security deposit and more, including how long landlords have to return your deposit as part of their tenant-landlord rights laws.
While state laws vary, they also have a lot of general things in common such as limitations on how much they can charge for public housing deposits, whether they need to provide an itemized list of deductions, and how they have to “save” your money until you are eligible for a deposit refund. We reviewed all of the state laws and pulled out the information that you may be looking for.
Security deposit laws — state by state
We found the information related to limitations of how much can be charged for security deposits, how the landlord must save your money and whether they need to disclose that information to you, if they need to provide you an itemized list of deposit deductions, and how long the landlord has to refund your deposit to you. We also researched how much your landlord may have to pay you if you win a case against them in court.
Security deposit limits
Many states limit how much can be charged for security deposits for rental units. Most states limit the amount to one or two times the rent. So if the rent is $1500 per month, they may ask for $1500 to $3000 for the security deposit.
On the other hand, some states allow different amounts under certain circumstances.
Common security deposit variations
- Low-income housing. Owners of low-income or state-supported housing cannot charge a large security deposit. Often it is limited to $50 or so.
- High-priced rentals. Luxury rentals may come with a higher security deposit.
- Short-term vs. long-term. Some states limit the deposit based on the length of the lease.
- Furnished units. Some states allow landlords to charge a larger deposit if the apartment is furnished.
- Renter’s age. Some states do not allow property managers to charge large deposits to seniors.
- Pet deposit. Most states allow landlords to charge an additional pet deposit if the animal is not a licensed service animal.
- A small number of units. Some state laws only apply to larger apartment buildings with many units.
How your security deposit is managed
States housing laws dictate how security deposits should be managed. For example, could you imagine your landlord spending your deposit? In this case, what if they can’t pay you back? It likely has happened, and that is why state laws were created to protect your security deposit.
Where your money is saved
Most state laws require that security deposits are saved in legitimate banking accounts separate from other accounts. For example, your landlord cannot put deposits into the same account that they use to manage rent money.
Saving disclosure written notice
Some states require the landlord to tell you where your security deposit is stored. In some states, they don’t have to provide you written notice, but you can ask for one.
It is rare, but some states require your landlord to pay the accrued interest your deposit money earned after moving out. If your state requires interest payments to you, it will be in your lease. Most states do not require interest payments on leases shorter than one year.
Days to return the security deposit
All states limit how long the landlord has to return your security deposit. It can range from 14 days to as long as 60 days. Like most laws, some circumstances may affect the time allowance. Often, the landlord is allowed more time if deductions need to be declared.
Common time allowance variations
- No moving address. If your previous landlord is not given your new mailing address within the time allowed, your return check may be delayed or retained by the landlord.
- Deduction made. If deductions are made, your landlord may be allowed more time.
Common security deposit deductions
Most states allow similar security deposit deductions – more on security deposit limit. Rental security deposits offer some protection for the property owner should you damage the property, leave the property dirty, or skip out on bills.
Landlords cannot charge you for what is considered normal “wear and tear” such as aged carpets or fading paint.
State laws vary, but in general, your landlord may deduct from your deposit for things such as,
- Property damage
- Cleaning fees
- Unpaid bills or rent
- Legal fees
- Non-refundable portion (usually for cleaning)
There are things you can do to limit how much of your deposit is retained. See, How to get your security deposit back.
Maximum landlord remedy explained
The maximum landlord remedy is how much the court may award you if your landlord loses a case you filed against them. The amount awarded could be less than the maximum amount. Most often, states allow tenants who win their cases to at least get the disputed amount returned. Some will also require the landlord to pay your costs too (court fees, lawyer fees). Some states may reward tenants more than the disputed amounts, sometimes up to 3X the security deposit.
If you end up disagreeing with the amount of the deposit your landlord says they will return to you, or if your landlord violates part of the lease agreement in regards to the deposit, you may choose to file against them in small claims court. Before filing with the court, you should have tried other means to recoup your deposit. If you win in court, you will receive your disputed amount at the minimum; however, some courts may choose to award you more. Additionally, some states may fine the landlord a penalty if they broke the law.
New mailing address: If you don’t provide a mailing address, you may lose your deposit!
Providing your new address is one of the most important security deposit laws that you must follow. If your previous landlord doesn’t know your new mailing address, they cannot send your deposit to you. Most states limit how much time you have to communicate this information. If you can, give your new mailing address to the landlord or property management company ASAP. If you don’t have a new address, give them a trusted address such as a good friend’s or a relative’s address.
We know, we know… that they should offer modern refund options such as direct deposit, but they are not required by law to provide alternative options. Most will snail mail a check.
If you don’t follow the requirements here, you may not get your deposit back. Your original lease should define the criteria. If you need further information, review your state and local housing laws.
Security deposit laws — state by state
|State||Max security deposit||Required to pay you interest||Required to store in a separate bank or escrow account||Itemized deduction list required||Max days to refund your deposit||Max damages owed to you if |
landlord does not follow the law
|Alabama||1X rent||No||No||No||60||2X security deposit|
|Alaska||2X rent, no limit if rent over $2K||Yes||Yes||Yes||14-30||2X disputed amount|
|Arizona||1.5X rent||No||No||Yes||14||2X disputed amount|
|California||2X rent, 3X rent furnished||No||No||Yes||21||2X deposit + damages|
|Colorado||No limit||No||No||Yes||30-60||3X disputed amount + fees|
|Connecticut||2X rent, 1X for seniors||Yes||Yes||No||30||2X security deposit|
|Delaware||1X rent||No||Yes||Yes||20||2X security deposit|
|Florida||No limit||Yes||Yes||Yes||15-30||Costs + attorney fees|
|Georgia||No limit||No||Yes||Yes||30||Court decides|
|Hawaii||1X rent||No||No||Yes||14||3X deposit|
|Idaho||No limit||No||No||Yes||21||3X damages|
|Illinois||No limit||Yes||Yes||Yes||30||2X deposit|
|Indiana||No limit||No||No||Yes||45||1X deposit + fees|
|Iowa||2X rent||Varies||Yes||Yes||30||2X deposit|
|Kansas||1X rent, 1.5X rent furnished||No||Yes||Yes||30||1.5X disputed amount|
|Louisiana||No limit||No||No||Yes||30||2X deposit|
|Maine||2X rent||No||Yes||Yes||21||1X rent + fees|
|Maryland||2X rent||Varies||Yes||Yes||45||3X disputed amount + fees|
|Massachusetts||1X rent||Varies||Yes||Yes||30||3X deposit|
|Michigan||1.5X rent||Varies||Yes||Yes||30||2X deposit|
|Minnesota||No limit||Yes||No||Yes||21||2X deposit + damages|
|Mississippi||No limit||No||No||Yes||45||2X disputed amount + fees + interest|
|Missouri||2X rent||No||Yes||Yes||30||2X disputed amount|
|Nebraska||1X rent||No||No||Yes||14||2X deposit|
|Nevada||Varies by housing type||No||Yes||Yes||30||Court decides|
|New Jersey||1.5X rent||Yes||Yes||Yes||30||$5,000 + costs|
|New Hampshire||1X rent||Varies||Yes||Yes||30||2X deposit + interest|
|New Mexico||1X rent +||Yes||No||Yes||30||Disputed amount|
|New York||1X rent||Yes||Yes||Yes||14||Disputed amount + 2X deposit|
|North Carolina||Varies by rental type||Varies||Yes||Yes||30||Court decides|
|North Dakota||1X rent +||Yes||Yes||Yes||30||3X deposit|
|Ohio||No limit||Yes||Yes||Yes||30||Disputed amount + fees|
|Oklahoma||No limit||No||Yes||Yes||45||Deposit + fees|
|Oregon||No limit||No||No||Yes||31||2X deposit|
|Pennsylvania||2X rent||Varies||Yes||Yes||30||2X deposit + interest|
|Rhode Island||1X rent||No||No||Yes||20||2X + fees|
|South Carolina||No limit||No||No||Yes||30||3X disputed amount + fees|
|South Dakota||1X rent +||No||No||Yes||14-45||Disputed amount + up to $200|
|Tennessee||No limit||No||Yes||Yes||30-60||Disputed amount + costs|
|Texas||No limit||No||No||Yes||30||3X disputed amount + fees|
|Utah||No limit||No||No||Yes||30||Deposit + fees|
|Vermont||Varies by location||Varies by location||Yes||Yes||14||Up to 2X deposit|
|Virginia||2X rent||Varies||Varies||Yes||45||Deposit + fees|
|Washington||No limit||No||Yes||Yes||21||2X deposit + fees|
|Washington DC||1X rent||Varies||Yes||Yes||45||Deposit + interest|
|West Virginia||No limit||No||No||Yes||45||2X deposit|
|Wisconsin||No limit||No||No||Yes||21||2X disputed amount + costs|
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