If you have been asked by your landlord to put in an additional security deposit, you may be wondering if that’s something they can do and what rights you may have when you are faced with this situation.
In this article, I am going to answer the question of whether your landlord can ask for an additional security deposit, what you need to look at to figure out your rights in this scenario, and some tips on how to best respond to this type of request.
I’ll also cover related questions around security deposits in general, such as what they are, what they can be used for, how much they should be, and when you can expect to get your security deposit back after moving out.
For those how want a quick answer to the question, here it is:
As a general matter, your security deposit will be set in your lease and cannot be increased by your landlord without your consent. However, there may be exceptions, including if your lease is a month to month arrangement, you get a pet, or your landlord spends part of the deposit to repairs damage you caused.
Ok – let’s get into it!
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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What Is a Security Deposit?
A security deposit is a pool of money that your landlord will require you to pay before you move in to your new place. It often is paid at the same time you sign your lease agreement.
This deposit will give your landlord reassurance that they will not need to come out of pocket if you cause damage to the property, you fail to pay rent or late fees, or you otherwise cause your landlord to experience financial loss due to your actions (or inactions).
The amount of the security deposit and the terms governing how it may be used are laid out in your lease, so make sure you read it carefully.
Can My Landlord Ask For Additional Security Deposit?
As mentioned above, your lease is going to be the main document that governs here.
In most cases, your landlord will not have the right to demand an additional security deposit (especially if it is the middle of your lease term and nothing in your rental arrangement has changed or is expected to change).
Of course, if your lease term is expiring and you are negotiating a possible renewal, then the landlord is usually within their rights to ask you to increase your security deposit, especially if it is going hand in hand with an increase in rent.
The same principle applies to month to month leases.
In this case, the lease term is constantly expiring every month, so the landlord can basically ask for an increase at any time, with the increase going into effect at the beginning of the new lease term (which is typically the beginning of the following month).
In some instances, an additional security deposit may be required if you want to change the terms of your tenancy.
A common situation is if you are getting a pet Your landlord will often require a pet addendum that will govern this change, which will often come with a pet deposit and/or pet rent.
Now bear in mind that there may be state-law based limitations on security deposits. So, depending on your jurisdiction, your landlord may be restricted in how much he can charge. More on that later.
What Is a Security Deposit Used For?
Generally speaking, the landlord can use the security deposit for any of the following:
- Cleaning fees for the unit
- Repairing damages caused by the tenant
- Replacement of lost property caused by the tenant
- Compensation for rent or late fees owed by the tenant
- Cost of collection (which may include attorney’s fees)
How Much Should the Security Deposit Be?
The amount of your security deposit will vary depending on your landlord, your state of residence, and your specific situation.
Landlords often simply charge one month’s rent for the security deposit, although that can range higher (e.g., 1.5 times to 2 times your rent).
But if your credit history or income is subpar, they may want an even larger security deposit to offset the risk.
Now as I mentioned above, the amount of your security may also be limited by state law.
There are some states that impose no statutory limits. This means that the state doesn’t set a specific limit on the amount of security deposit required by landlords.
States such as Colorado, Florida, and Texas have no statutory limits on the amount of security deposit collected. On the other hand, in states like California or Virginia, the limit for the security deposit is two months’ worth of rent for unfurnished units.
For California, the limit goes up to three months of rent in the case of furnished units.
If you want to explore your state’s rules around security deposits, you can do so by going to my 50 state landlord-tenant law page here.
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When Can I Get Back My Security Deposit?
After leaving the unit, you might be wondering how soon you can get back your security deposit. Well, the time to return the deposit also depends on your area’s security deposit statutes. Most states impose a deadline on the landlord to return tenants’ security deposits.
For instance, if you live in Ohio, your landlord needs to return your deposit within 30 days of you moving out. Other states, like Virginia, give the landlord 45 days. Again, check your state laws for more precise information.
Typically, your landlord will provide you with a list of expenses and deductions to be charged against your security deposit.
The amount remaining and any interest earned will then be returned to you.
There you have it — an answer to whether your landlord ask for additional security deposit and other relevant questions. Hope this has been helpful and happy renting.