Are you moving this spring? If you put down a security deposit at the start of your lease, all or a portion of it might be headed back your way after you move out and complete the final walkthrough. However, one of the most common causes of tenant-landlord disputes is a failure to return the security deposit.
What Is a Security Deposit?
A security deposit, according to Maryland State Law, is “any money paid by a tenant to a landlord that protects the landlord against damage to the rented property, failure to pay rent or expenses incurred due to a breach of the lease.” Security deposits cannot be higher than two months of rent, and every tenant should receive a receipt with the deposit. The lease that you sign should also allow you to create a list of existing damages within 15 days of moving in, providing you request to do so.
When Does Failure to Return Security Deposit Come Into Play?
Most disputes over security deposits arise from misunderstanding what the landlord can keep and whether or not damages to the rental unit exist. Landlords are required to send the security deposit, less any damages and owed rent, within 45 days of the end of the lease. If the landlord cannot provide a good reason as to why this was not completed, the tenant has grounds for a lawsuit.
If the landlord does withhold all or a portion of the deposit, a written list of damages must be sent to the tenant. There should be a statement detailing the cost of repairing each damaged item included with the list. This itemized list needs to be mailed to the last known tenant address within 45 days of the lease’s end. If this is not completed, the landlord is barred from claiming reimbursement for these damages that were allegedly caused by the tenant.
However, if the tenant owes rent to the landlord, the landlord has the right to deduct that from the security deposit with or without a formal notification letter.
What Are Your Rights?
Tenants have the right to be present when the landlord inspects the rental property at the end of the lease, providing that you notify the landlord by certified mail 15 or more days before moving. The landlord will, in turn, notify you of the date and time of the inspection, which should be between 5 days before and 5 days after your move out.
Get Help on Your Failure to Return Deposit Case from Lebovitz Law
Lebovitz Law has years of experience working with landlords and tenants to navigate the legal system and receive the best legal outcome possible. To learn more about how we can assist you, please contact us today.