North Dakota Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

North Dakota Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Last Updated: January 29, 2024 by Phil Ahn

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions Unpaid rent

Costs of damage

Cleaning costs

Return Deadline 30 days
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return 3x Amount Due + Court Costs

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

Security Deposit Deductions in North Dakota

In North Dakota, the following can be deducted from security deposits:

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

Most states, such as North Dakota, 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 North Dakota?

“Normal wear and tear” is deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property as it was designed to be used.

Examples include:

  • Gently worn carpets
  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded paint and flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.

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 North Dakota?

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 North Dakota?

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 North Dakota?

North Dakota law allows landlords to charge for cleaning limited to bringing the unit back to its original condition at the start of the lease, excluding normal wear and tear.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, 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

Ordinary 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 North Dakota

Landlords must return a security deposit with interest (if due) by mail or hand-delivery with a written notice and an itemized statement of deductions, if any, to the tenant’s last-known address no later than 30 days after the lease term ends and the tenant vacates the rental unit.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in North Dakota?

North Dakota landlords have 30 days  after the lease term ends and the tenant vacates the rental unit to return any unused portion of the security deposit.

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in North Dakota?

North Dakota law requires landlords to provide the actual interest earned on held security deposits except when the lease term is shorter than nine months. If due, the interest must be provided when the security deposit is returned. However, both the security deposit and interest can be applied toward damages.

How Do Landlords Give Notice in North Dakota?

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

The written notice must state either:

  • The amount of the security deposit returned to the tenant
  • The amount still owed to the landlord

If a tenant does not claim what is left of their security deposit within one year after the lease term ends, the landlord is required to report it as unclaimed property.

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

North Dakota 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 North Dakota

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

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

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

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in North Dakota?

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 $15,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file in the local District Court.

A small claims case for a security deposit must be filed within 6 years. An attorney is not required but permitted. Cases are filed in the Small Claims Court within the county where the rental property is located or where the defendant lives. The filing fee is $10.