What is a Security Deposit Letter?

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  • Written By: Christopher John
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2019
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A security deposit letter is a document requesting a refund of a security deposit. At the time a lease is signed, a landlord or property owner usually requires a tenant to pay a security deposit when renting a home, an apartment, or a commercial property. A security deposit is a sum of money that a landlord holds in escrow while a tenant occupies a property. Generally, a landlord may use this money if a tenant damages the property or violates the rental agreement. Once a tenant moves out, he or she sends a security deposit letter to the property owner asking for a refund of the deposit.

Some jurisdictions place a limit on the amount of money a landlord may require as a security deposit. Typical amounts are two or three times the monthly rent for residential properties. Although a tenant gives this money to a landlord, it still belongs to the tenant. Indeed, some jurisdictions require a landlord to place the money in an interest-bearing account. Depending on the circumstances, a tenant may have the right to a full refund of the deposit, and this is why a tenant sends a security deposit letter.


Certain situations may allow a landlord to decline to provide a full refund after receiving a security deposit letter. For instance, jurisdictions typically allow a landlord to deduct certain costs from the deposit such as repairing any property damage, cleaning the property, and covering unpaid rent. In addition, if a tenant failed to provide notice that he was moving from the property, depending on the notice requirements of the jurisdiction, a landlord might be able to keep the deposit to cover any costs while the property remained vacant. Notice would have allowed the landlord an opportunity to find someone else to rent the property and thereby prevent any loss of rent for that period of time.

If a tenant did not damage the property and otherwise complied with the rental agreement, he or she may request a refund of the security deposit in a security deposit letter mailed to the landlord. Laws typically require a landlord to make a refund within a set time after a tenant moves out. The time varies for each jurisdiction. If a landlord uses some or all of the deposit to make repairs, he usually provides an itemized listing of how the money was spent along with receipts to the former tenant. Failure to do this may result in forfeiture of the security deposit, plus a penalty of up to three times the deposit, even if the landlord's expenditures were legitimate and/or necessary.

A security deposit letter does not need to be elaborate or have a harsh tone. Rather, it simple should request a refund of the deposit and provide a current address. The security deposit letter may also remind the landlord of when the tenant moved out. It is not necessary for the letter to reference the law of the jurisdiction. It is the obligation of the property owner to know the law concerning security deposits, including the deadline for sending the refund check. Any disputes concerning the deposit may be resolved in court.


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