Your deposit is your money - get it back!

Get Your Deposit Back - 80's style. 2 men in 80's attire in an ad for The Bay with the text:

The most common complaint heard in the ASUM Renter Center is students not receiving an appropriate amount of their deposit back.  Schedule an appointment to speak with us if you should need assistance.

Refer to the Security Deposit Act

Landlord didn't return your deposit at all?  If nothing is withheld, the deposit is due back to the tenant within 10 days of the lease ending; if something is withheld (even a penny!), the deposit is due back to the tenant within 30 days.  The landlord is also required to provide an itemized list of deductions.  See 70-25-202 

Landlord overcharged you for simple things?  Landlords can't charge unreasonable amounts of money for things.  For example, if there is a light bulb that was not replaced, this should not be more than a few dollars to replace.  The landlord cannot claim the light bulb will cost you $55 to replace.  In this case, you should ask for a copy of the receipt for the purchase of the light bulb.  

Landlord charging you for things that needed to be done anyway?  Landlords can't charge you for normal maintenance.  Repainting walls, re-roofing, or putting in new carpet may be unnecessary charges if they are extremely old and needed updating.  For example, if the carpet is 20 years old and you left it in the same condition as it was when you moved in, the landlord may not be able to charge you to replace the outdated shag carpeting.  Statute 70-25-201

Didn't receive a move-in report at the beginning of the lease?  It is very difficult to prove that you were the one who caused the damage and not the previous renter.  Check your lease for a box that was checked or a statement saying that you acknowledge you received a move-in report.  It is difficult to prove you didn't receive it if you signed your name to that statement.  Refer to statute 70-25-206 for information on move-in reports.

You can NOT use your deposit as last month's rent.  The deposit is to only be used at the end of the lease term.  Your landlord can charge you late fees, evict you, send you to collections, and generally just make your life stressful if you don't pay the last month's rent.  

There is no maximum amount to be charged for deposits.  A landlord may request a deposit that is more than the monthly rent.  It is up to you to refuse to rent the apartment or simply negotiate the amount down.  

Important Terms 

Certified Mailing: There are two types and you want the most costly (roughly $5) where you receive a receipt (proof!) of the landlord receiving the letter.  This is important as you don't want to get into "He said, She said" situation.  You can get your letter certified at the UC Shipping Express in the UC.

Cyclical Cleaning (or Maintenance): Things that the landlord will do regardless of whether you live there or not.  If the walls are repainted every 5 years, and you happen to move out on year 5, you probably aren't responsible for paying for the painting.  You are responsible for the cleaning and damages that YOU (or your guests) caused.  See 70-25-201

Carpet cleaning: The landlord may charge you for carpet cleaning, but those charges must be justified by the condition of the carpet, not a policy of mandatory professional carpet cleaning. Read more about that in ASUM Legal Services' opinion (PDF).


Sally Renter paid a deposit at the beginning of her lease.  At the end of her lease, she received an itemized list of the charges and a check for the remaining amount.  She wants to contest the charges because she asked for a cleaning inspection within one week before the lease ended, upheld her end of the move-out agreement according to the lease she signed (she got the carpets professionally cleaned), and kept all her paperwork. 

Here is the statement she received with the $100 check:  XYZ Property Management Itemized List of Deductions

Here is the grievance letter she sent Certified Mail: XYZ Property Management Grievance Letter


Disclaimer:  The information found at The Off-Campus Renter Center is not legal advice an attorney.  Please contact ASUM Legal Services (if a student) or your attorney for legal advice.  The information found here is intended for educational purposes only and should be used for ones own pursuit of mitigating disputes.