The law permits the landlord to collect a security deposit. This deposit usually may not exceed two times the monthly rent. In federally subsidized housing, the security deposit usually may not exceed $50. It protects the landlord from damage to the leased unit caused by the tenant or rent owed by the tenant.

The landlord is not required to use the security deposit for rent while the tenant still occupies the property, nor is the tenant responsible for damage to the property due to ordinary wear and tear.

When the tenant first moves into the rental unit, the tenant should make a list of damages that exist at that time in writing and send a copy to the landlord. When the tenant moves out, the landlord will inspect the property to determine whether any damage was incurred during the lease. The tenant may be present at the inspection if they advise the landlord by certified mail that he or she is going to move, the date of the move and the new address. The tenant’s notice must be mailed at least 15 days before the moving date. The landlord must notify the tenant by certified mail of the time and date that the rental unit is inspected. This date must be within 5 days before or after the moving date of the tenant.

Within 30 days after the tenant moves, the landlord must advise the tenant in writing about any damages that are being deducted from the security deposit. The landlord must return the security deposit, less damages, within 45 days. If a landlord fails to return a security deposit as required by law, the tenant may recover up to three times the amount of the security deposit wrongfully withheld, plus attorney fees, by filing an action in court.

This does not apply where a tenant has abandoned or was evicted from the premises. Special requirements must be met in such cases.