Alaska Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Alaska Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Last Updated: January 18, 2004 by Phil Ahn

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions Unpaid rent

Costs of damage

Cleaning costs

Return Deadline 14 or 30 Days
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return 2x Amount Due + Court Costs +  Attorneys’ Fees

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Alaska, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in Alaska

In Alaska, the following things can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
  • Cleaning costs

Most states, such as Alaska, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear and Tear in Alaska?

“Normal Wear and Tear” is the “deterioration that occurs from the intended use of the rental unit and without negligence, carelessness, accident, misuse, or abuse of the premises or contents by the tenant, members of the household of the tenant, or the invitees or guests of the tenant”.

Examples include:

  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

Damage” is the “deterioration of the premises and…the contents of the premises,” and is generally understood to mean destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant.

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Alaska?

Landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.


A carpet that is slightly discolored or gently worn will be considered normal wear and tear. A carpet with visible stains, major discoloration and rips will be considered excessively damaged.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Alaska?

Landlords can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures.

However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Alaska?

Alaska law allows landlords to charge for cleaning costs limited to bringing the unit back to its original condition at the start of the lease. Landlords may require tenants to complete cleaning tasks by listing them in the lease agreement. If tenants fail to complete those tasks, landlords can charge for professional cleaning.


Landlords may require that tenants professionally clean the carpets if they were professionally cleaned at the start of their lease term.

However, no part of the security deposit can be considered non-refundable. Landlords cannot charge a non-refundable cleaning fee regardless of the condition of the rental unit.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Alaska?

In Alaska, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal paint wear includes:

  • Minor scrapes from daily use
  • Fading due to sunlight
  • Minor cracks in the original paint.

Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

Security Deposit Returns in Alaska

Landlords must return a security deposit by mail with an itemized statement of deductions within 30 days from the date the lease term ends and the tenant vacates the rental unit. If the landlord does not intent to make deductions for damages, they must return the security deposit within 14 days.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Alaska?

Alaska landlords have 14 days to return a security deposit if there are no damages to the rental unit, or 30 days when they intend to withhold a portion of the security deposit for damages.

The time period to return the security deposit begins once the lease has terminated and the tenant delivers possession of the property to the landlord.

If a landlord intends to make deductions from the security deposit for overdue rent, but there are no physical damages to the rental unit, the deadline is 14 days.

If the tenant vacates the rental unit without giving proper notice, the landlord has 30 days to return the security deposit regardless of the type of deductions (if any).

If the landlord does not know the tenant’s forwarding address, they must make a reasonable attempt to return the remaining portion of the deposit (if any) with a written notice.

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Alaska?

Unlike in some states, such as New Jersey, landlords in Alaska do not owe interest on security deposits.

How Do Landlords Give Notice?

Written notice must be mailed to the tenant’s last-known address and must include the amount of the security deposit due, if any, to the tenant, plus an itemized statement of deductions.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Alaska?

Alaska law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Disputes in Alaska

If landlords do not return the security deposit within the 30-day period, tenants can file for damages in court up to twice the amount wrongfully withheld plus court costs and attorneys’ fees.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

  • Failure to hold the security deposit in a financial account
  • Failure to provide an itemized statement when deductions are made
  • Unreasonable deductions

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Alaska?

If a landlord fails to return the security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in Small Claims Court if the amount of damages is less than $10,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a regular civil case in the local District Court.

A small claims case for a security deposit must be filed within 3 years. An attorney is not required but permitted. Cases are filed in the Small Claims Court closest to where the rental property is located or where the defendant lives or works. The filing fee is $50 or $100 depending on the amount claimed.