Alaska Security Deposit Law

Alaska Security Deposit Law

Last Updated: September 15, 2021 by Elizabeth Souza

In Alaska, the collection and return of security deposits are primarily regulated under AK Stat. § Sec. 34.03.070. These laws provide a set of rules that Alaska landlords and property managers have to follow to protect all parties.

Quick Facts Answer
Maximum Charge Two Months’ Rent (this does not apply to rentals where the rent exceeds $2,000 a month).
Deductions
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Excessive Damages
Return Deadline
  • 14 Days – With Notice of Termination
  • 30 Days – No Notice or No Deductions
Return Penalty Double the Deposit
Questions? To chat with an Alaska landlord tenant attorney, Click here

Maximum Security Deposit Charge in Alaska

In Alaska, landlords cannot charge a tenant security deposit that is more than two months’ rent . However, if the monthly rent is more than $2,000, this limit and the other rules we will discuss below will not apply.

Additional Pet Deposit: As an exception to the limit on security deposits, the landlord may charge an additional deposit of up to one month’s rent if the tenant will have a pet on the premises. This additional pet deposit can only be charged if the pet is not a service animal.

Service animal means an animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks that are directly related to and for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disabilities. The additional pet deposit must be accounted for separately from the tenant’s security deposit and may only be used to pay for damage that is directly related to or caused by the pet.

Security Deposit Holdings in Alaska

The landlord is not required to pay interest on security deposits. However, the landlord is required to put security deposits in a separate account. The account can be a trust account in a bank, savings and loan association, or a licensed escrow agent. The landlord does not need to have a separate account for each tenant who gives a security deposit. Security deposits from different tenants may be kept in the same account for as long as that account only holds security deposits and prepaid rent. What the landlord can’t do is put it in the same account where other funds like the rental income or personal savings are kept. Also, the landlord must inform the tenant of how the latter’s security deposit is being kept and the conditions under which the same may be withheld.

Landlords must account for each tenant’s security deposit separately even if they are in the same account. That means one tenant’s security deposit cannot be used to refund another tenant’s security deposit, to cover for another tenant’s rent, or to pay for damage chargeable to a different tenant.

Allowable Deductions on Security Deposits in Alaska

The landlord can only use the security deposit when the lease or tenancy has ended or has been terminated. Also, the landlord can only use the security deposit to cover:

  1. The unpaid rent; and
  2. The cost of damage caused by the tenant’s failure to comply with obligations as a tenant.

The landlord is not always allowed to use the security deposit to cover repairs for damage caused by the tenant. Two things must be met before the landlord may do so:

  1. The damage must not be due to normal wear and tear (read more);
  2. The cause of the damage must be the tenant’s failure to comply with obligations under the Alaska Statutes (read more).

Can the deposit be used by the tenant as last month’s rent? Not usually, but it can be done if there is a written agreement between the parties to do so.

“Normal Wear and Tear” vs. Damage in Alaska

  • Normal wear and tear refers to the deterioration of the property that happens when the property is used as it was meant to be used and only when that deterioration occurs without negligence, carelessness, accident, misuse, or abuse by the tenant or the people the tenant brings there. They are minor issues that occur naturally like aging and expected decline as a result of everyday living. These can include gently worn carpets, loose door handles, fading wall paint and flooring, stained bath fixtures, lightly scratched glass, dirty grout and mold that occur naturally.
  • Damage,” on the other hand, is deterioration or destruction that is the tenant’s fault, either through deliberate acts or as a result of negligence during the tenancy period. With respect to those chargeable to security deposits in Alaska, it refers to the damage that resulted from non-compliance with any of the tenant’s obligations as such under the law.

Check out our article on wear and tear vs. damage to get a better idea of the difference.

Tenant’s Obligations

The landlord can only charge the cost of repairs if the damage was caused by the failure of the tenant to comply with specific obligations. To comply with positive obligations under the said rule, the tenant must:

  1. Keep the premises, including all plumbing fixtures, clean and safe;
  2. Dispose of garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
  3. Use all facilities (e.g. electrical, plumbing, heating, etc.) and appliances reasonably;
  4. Maintain smoke detection and/or carbon monoxide detection devices;
  5. Comply with the maximum number of persons allowed to occupy the premises; and
  6. Leave the premises in the same condition it was in when it was handed to the tenant.

Note: A landlord of a single-family residence located in an underdeveloped rural area or located where public sewer or water service has never been connected is not liable for a breach of the rental agreement if the premises at the beginning of the rental agreement did not have running water, hot water, sewage, or sanitary facilities from a private system.

According to Alaska law, the tenant must not:

  1. Change the locks on doors on the premises (except in an emergency) and the landlord cannot be contacted after a reasonable amount of time. If the tenant must change the locks on the doors, the tenant must immediately provide the landlord with a set of keys to all doors for which locks have been changed within five days and must provide written notice of the change;
  2. Engage in unreasonable conduct that will cause members of the municipal police department to check on the premises enough times in a year to warrant the imposition of fees for excessive use or necessity of a municipal ordinance under Section 29.35.125 of the Alaska Statutes;
  3. Allow the number of individuals occupying the premise to exceed the number allowed by law or by the rental agreement;
  4. Deliberately or negligently destroy, damage, or remove parts of the premises;
  5. Unreasonably disturb the neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment of the premises; and
  6. Engage in illegal activities involving prostitution, gambling, use of alcohol or controlled or prohibited substances, and other similar or illegal activities, or in activities promoting the same within the premises.

If the damage to the premises was caused by the tenant’s failure to comply with any of the above, then the landlord may take the cost of repairing it from the security deposit.

Returning Security Deposits in Alaska

Time Frame: If the lease is terminated by the landlord or tenant through a proper notice and there are no deductions on the security deposit, the landlord has 14 days to mail the written notice and refund the security deposit. The 14 days are counted from the date stated specified in the notice as the end of the lease.

However, if the tenant does not give proper notice or if there are deductions on the security deposit, the landlord has 30 days to return the same. The 30 days may be counted from the termination of the lease, the date the tenant gives the premises back or the date the landlord finds out that the tenant has abandoned the premises, whichever is earlier. The landlord is required to exert reasonable efforts to deliver the written notice and return the security deposit.

Also, if there are deductions on the security deposit, the landlord is required to inform the tenant of the specifics of the same in an itemized list on a written notice. This should be mailed to the tenant with the remaining amount.

Failure to Return Security Deposit as Required: If the landlord refuses or fails to return the security deposit within the 14 or 30 days, the tenant stands to recover up to double the amount the landlord is withholding.

Questions? To chat with an Alaska landlord tenant attorney, Click here

Security Deposits and Tax Filing in Alaska

How the security deposit will be treated tax-wise depends on whether or not the landlord gets to keep it (or part of it).

Taxable Income: Security deposits are not automatically considered income when the landlord receives them. The IRS advises to not include security deposits as income if the landlord may still be required to return the same. They only become taxable income when the landlord no longer has any obligation to refund them. For example, if the security deposit was given in 2020 but was only forfeited in 2021, then the landlord should only include it as income in 2021.

Reporting Security Deposit as Income: Whether or not security deposit should be reported as income and when to do so will depend on what it is being applied to or used as. Below are three simple rules the IRS has suggested to follow:

  1. When and if the deposit is forfeited due to a breach of the lease or applied to unpaid rent, then the amount kept should be declared as income in the year it was forfeited or applied.
  2. If a security deposit is used to cover expenses that are chargeable to it, then the landlord should only include the part of the deposit used as income if the landlord includes the cost of repairs as expenses. If the landlord doesn’t include them as expenses as a matter of practice, then there’s no need to include the part of the deposit kept to cover them as income.
  3. When there is an agreement between the parties to use the deposit or part of it as the final month’s rent, then the landlord should include it as income when the same is received.

Additional Rules & Regulations in Alaska

Receipt Requirements: The landlord is not required to provide a receipt for the security deposit in Alaska.

Security Deposit Interest in Alaska: Alaska law requires security deposits to be deposited into a separate account. The landlord is not required to pay interest on them.

For additional questions about security deposits in Alaska, please refer to the official state legislation, Alaska Statutes § 34.03.020, § 34.03.070, and § 34.03.290, for more information.

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