Security Deposit Law

Limits | Return Deadlines | Deductions Allowed | FAQs | States

Learn about state-by-state laws governing security deposits, such as the maximum amount a landlord can charge, how long they have to return the funds and what can be deducted.

A security deposit is an up-front payment by a tenant to a landlord to act as proof of intent to move-in and to mitigate the risk of damages to the property.

Each state has its own rules for various aspects governing the collection, holding and return of security deposit funds. Click here to find the laws in a specific state or read further for a summary of laws by legal area.

Limits on Security Deposit Amounts

State laws generally establish limits on the amount of security deposit landlords can charge, but there are some states that do not specify the amount landlords can demand and collect from renters.

It is also important to check local rent control rules for security deposit limits. A security deposit limit may depend on factors that include age, whether the rental unit is furnished or unfurnished, whether or not a renter has a pet, changes to the premises, or increased liability risks to the landlord or premises and even the number of rental properties the landlord owns.

StateSecurity Deposit Limit
Alabama1 month’s rent
Alaska2 months’ rent
Arizona2 months’ rent
Arkansas2 months’ rent, but if a landlord owns less than six properties, compliance with the two month maximum is not required
California2 months’ rent (unfurnished unit); 3 months’ rent (furnished property)
Colorado No statutory limit
Connecticut2 months’ rent (tenant under 62 years of age); 1 month’s rent (tenant 62 years of age or older).
Delaware1 month’s rent (duration of the rental agreement a year or more);
More than 1 month’s rent for rental agreement not for a defined term, or on a month to month basis, where the tenancy is for a year
District of Columbia1 month’s rent
FloridaNo statutory limit
GeorgiaNo statutory limit
Hawaii1 month’s rent
IdahoNo statutory limit
IllinoisNo statutory limit
IndianaNo statutory limit
Iowa 2 month’s rent
Kansas1 ½ months’ rent (furnished unit); 1 month’s rent(unfurnished unit)
KentuckyNo statutory limit
LouisianaNo statutory limit
Maine2 month’s rent
Maryland2 months’ rent
Massachusetts1 month’s rent
Michigan1 ½ months’ rent
MinnesotaNo statutory limit
MississippiNo statutory limit
Missouri2 month’s rent
MontanaNo statutory limit
Nebraska1 month’s rent
Nevada3 month’s rent
New Hampshire1 month’s rent or $100, whichever is greater
New Jersey1 ½ month’s rent
New Mexico1 month’s rent (lease agreement under a year); More than one month’s rent (lease agreement a year or more)
New YorkNo statutory limit
North Carolina 2 weeks’ rent (week-to-week);  1 ½ months’ rent (Month-to-month); 2 months’ rent (leases longer than month-to-month)
North Dakota1 month’s rent; 2 month’s rent (if convicted of a felony offense or if tenant has a judgment against them for violating the terms of a previous rental agreement)
OhioNo statutory limit
OklahomaNo statutory limit
OregonNo statutory limit
Pennsylvania2 months’ rent (first year of lease); 1 month’s rent (second year of lease and subsequent years of the lease)

Fifth year of lease (cannot increase  security deposit)

Rhode Island1 month’s rent
South CarolinaNo statutory limit
South Dakota1 month’s rent
TennesseeNo statutory limit
TexasNo statutory limit
UtahNo statutory limit
VermontNo statutory limit
Virginia2 months’ rent
WashingtonNo statutory limit
West VirginiaNo statutory limit
WisconsinNo statutory limit
WyomingNo statutory limit

Deadline for Returning Security Deposits

All states set specific deadlines for landlords to return security deposits to a departing tenant in a timely manner. The average deadline for return across all states is about 30 days from the commencement of the tenancy, but some states allow for as many as 60, or in rare cases, as few as 5.

StatesSecurity Deposit Return Deadline
Alabama35 days
AlaskaBetween 14 and 30 days
Arizona14 days
Arkansas60 days
California21 days
Colorado A month
Connecticut30 days
Delaware20 days
District of Columbia45 days
FloridaBetween 15 and 30 days
Georgia30 days
Hawaii14 days
IdahoBetween 21 and 30 days
IllinoisBetween 30 or 45 days
Indiana45 days
Iowa 30 days
KansasBetween 14 and 30 days
KentuckyBetween 30 and 60 days
Louisiana1 month
Maine30 days, or 21 days for at-will tenancy
Maryland45 days
Massachusetts30 days
Michigan30 days
Minnesota3 weeks, or 5 days if the building or rental unit is legally condemned
Mississippi45 days
Missouri30 days
Montana10 and 30 days
Nebraska14 days
Nevada30 days
New Hampshire30 days
New Jersey30 days, or 15 days (victim of domestic violence); 5 days (displacement)
New Mexico30 days
New YorkWithin a reasonable time-frame
North Carolina30 days
North Dakota30 days
Ohio30 days
Oklahoma45 days
Oregon31 days
Pennsylvania30 days
Rhode Island20 days
South Carolina30 days
South Dakota45 days
Tennessee60 days
Texas30 days
Utah30 days
Vermont14 days
Virginia45 days
Washington14 days
West VirginiaBetween 45 and 60 days
Wisconsin21 days
WyomingBetween 15 and 30 days

Deductions on Security Deposit Returns

States vary greatly on what exactly can be deducted from a security deposit at the end of a tenancy. The most common reasons for deductions are unpaid rent and damages to the premise beyond “ordinary wear and tear”, but some states allow for deductions for a variety of other reasons. In most states, if deductions are made, landlords are required to provide tenants with an itemized written receipt.

StateDeductions Allowed
Alabama
  • The payment of accrued rent
  • Damages beyond wear and tear
Alaska
  • Payment of rent owed
  • Damages beyond wear and tear
  • Other damages to which the landlord may be entitled
Arizona
  • Payment of all rent owed by the tenant (subject to the landlord’s duty to mitigate future losses)
  • The amount to repair any damage caused to the rental property by the tenant
  • Any other damage which the landlord is entitled to as a result of a tenant’s noncompliance
Arkansas
  • Payment of all unpaid rent
  • Damages as a result of tenant’s noncompliance with the rental agreement
California
  • Unpaid rent
  • The cost of repairing damage to the rental apartment in excess of normal wear and tear
  • Cleaning costs (apply only to tenancies beginning after January 1, 2003)
  • Any future debts established under the rental agreement to restore, replace, or return personal property
Colorado
  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Abandonment of the premises
  • Nonpayment of utility charges
  • Repair work
  • Cleaning contracted for by the tenant
Connecticut
  • Any damages suffered as a result of tennant’s noncompliance
Delaware
  • Unpaid rent owed
  • Payment for damages to the rental unit
  • Renovation and re-entry expenses
  • Cost of pet damage
Florida
  • Damages beyond wear and tear
Georgia
  • Nonpayment of rent or fees for late payment
  • Abandonment of the premises
  • Nonpayment of utility charges
  • Repair/replacement work
  • Cleaning with third parties hired by the tenant
  • Unpaid pet fees
  • Actual damages
Hawaii
  • Accidental or intentional damages
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Unreturned keys
  • Cleaning costs
  • Damages for abandonment of the rental unit
  • Pet animal damage
  • Utility service
Idaho
  • Incidents specified in the deposit arrangement
Illinois
  • Rent owed
  • Damages not as a result of normal wear and tear
  • Cost for landlord labor after vacating the rental unit
  • Cleaning costs
  • Other costs associated with breach of lease agreement
Indiana
  • Actual damage to the rental unit beyond ordinary wear and tear.
  • Rent owed
  • Utility Cost
  • Sewer charges
  • Other obligations under the rental agreement
Iowa
  • Rent owed
  • Repair and restoration of the rental property in excess of ordinary wear and tear
  • Expenses that result from a landlord recovering possession of the rental property that a tenant has refused to surrender or vacate
  • Other monies due under the rental agreement
Kansas
  • Expenses (unpaid rent)
  • Damages or other legally allowable charges under the rental agreement
Kentucky
  • Unpaid rent
  • Damages as a result of tenant’s noncompliance
Louisiana
  • Unpaid rent
  • Unpaid utility bills
  • Charges associated with abandonment of rental unit
  • Damages beyond wear and tear
MaineIncludes but not limited to:

  • Costs of storing and disposing of unclaimed property
  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Nonpayment of utility charges
Maryland
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Damage in excess of normal wear and tear
Massachusetts
  • Unpaid rent
  • Unpaid water charges
  • Any unpaid real estate taxes that the tenant was obligated to pay
  • Damage in excess of normal wear and tear
Michigan
  • Actual damages to the rental unit beyond normal wear and tear
  • Unpaid rent
Minnesota
  • Unpaid rent
  • Damage in excess of ordinary wear and tear
  • Other breaches of the lease agreement
Mississippi
  • Unpaid rent
  • Damages beyond normal wear and tear
  • Cleaning cost
  • Other reasonable and necessary expenses resulting from the tenant’s default
Missouri
  • Unpaid rent
  • Damage to the rental unit beyond normal wear and tear
  • Damage related to early termination of the tenancy
  • Other breach of the rental agreement
Montana
  • Damage
  • Unpaid rent
  • Late charges
  • Utilities
  • Penalties due under the lease agreement
  • Charge for the landlord’s labor
  • Any other money owed to the landlord
Nebraska
  • Unpaid rent
  • Damages resulting from the tenant’s breach of the rental agreement
Nevada
  • Unpaid rent
  • Repair damages to the premises beyond normal wear
  • Cleaning Costs
New Mexico
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Unpaid Utilities
  • Damage in Excess of Normal Wear and Tear
  • Repair work
  • Other Breaches of the Lease Agreement
New Hampshire
  • Cost of repairs
  • Real estate taxes
  • Unpaid rent
  • Other lawful, unpaid charges due
New Jersey
  • Charges due under the terms of the contract, lease or agreement
  • Rent due
New York
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Damage in excess of normal wear and tear
  • Non-payment of utility
  • Moving and storage of the tenant’s belongings
North Carolina
  • Unpaid rent, water or sewer services and electric service and other bills
  • Damage to the rental property
  • Damages as a result of breach of lease (except in cases of landlord’s violation, or if the tenant is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking)
  • Costs of re-renting the rental unit
  • Costs of removal and storage of the tenant’s property
  • Court costs
North Dakota
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Cleaning costs and other repairs
Ohio
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Damages beyond normal wear and tear
Oklahoma
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Other breaches of the lease agreement
Oregon
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Labor costs for cleaning and repair done by landlord
  • Carpet cleaning beyond common vacuum cleaner
  • Other breaches of the lease agreement
Pennsylvania
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Other breaches of the lease agreement
Rhode Island
  • Unpaid rent
  • Cleaning expenses
  • Trash disposal costs
  • Physical damages beyond normal wear and tear
South Carolina
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Other Breaches of the Lease Agreement
South Dakota
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Cost to restore the premises to pre-rent conditions
  • Other costs related to a breach of the rental agreement
Tennessee
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Damage in excess of normal wear and tear
  • All other contractual damages
Texas
  • Damages
  • Charges for which the tenant is legally liable under the lease agreement
Utah
  • Payment of rent
  • Damages beyond normal wear and tear
  • Cost of cleaning the unit
  • Other costs and fees that fall under the lease agreement
Vermont
  • Unpaid rent
  • Damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Unpaid utility
  • Costs for removing articles from the rental unit  abandoned by the tenant
Virginia
  • Rent owed
  • Damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Damages or charges as provided in the rental agreement
  • Water cost, sewer or other utility charge
  • Administrative fee
Washington State
  • Unpaid  rent
  • Damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Charges that the tenant is legally liable for under the lease agreement
West Virginia
  • Rent due, including late fee
  • Damages beyond normal wear and tear
  • Unpaid utilities
  • Reasonable costs for the removal and storage of the tenant’s personal property
  • Other damages or charges established in the rental agreement
Wisconsin
  • Damage, waste, or neglect of the premises.
  • Unpaid rent
  • Unpaid utility
  • Unpaid monthly municipal permit fees
  • Any other payment for a reason provided in a nonstandard rental provision document
Wyoming
  • Unpaid Rent
  • Damages beyond normal wear and tear
  • Cleaning costs
  • Other costs provided by any contract

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can Be Deducted From a Security Deposit?

Depending on state law, some of the things that can be deducted from security deposits include unpaid rent and damages to the premises in excess of normal wear and tear. Damage caused by normal wear and tear is generally not allowed. Always check your state’s laws.

Can the Landlord Keep the Security Deposit?

Yes, a landlord can keep the security deposit (all or in part) at the end of a tenancy depending on if a tenant is found in default on rent (or other payments) or if found liable for damages as established under the lease agreement.

How Long Until I Get My Security Deposit Back?

How long until you get your security deposit back depends on the state you’re in. The average deadline for return is about 30 days from the commencement of the tenancy, but some states allow the landlord as many as 60, or in rare cases, as few as 5 days to return.

Can I Sue My Landlord for Not Returning My Deposit?

Yes, you can sue your landlord for not returning your deposit in Small Claims Court if your deposit it unlawfully withheld by the landlord after the established refund time period or if you feel that the results of a dispute of deductions remain unsatisfactory.

What Is the Average Security Deposit?

The average security deposit is equal to one month’s rent. Some states limit the amount that a landlord can charge for a security deposit, while others do not. Some local municipalities establish limits on security deposits even if there is no statutory limit at the state level.

Can I Get My Deposit Back If I Haven’t Signed a Lease?

You may or may not be able to get your deposit back if you haven’t signed a lease depending on what the deposit was for, the terms under which the deposit was made and state law. If the deposit is non-refundable, then chances are you’ll not be able to get your deposit back.

Can Security Deposits Be Non-Refundable?

Yes, security deposits can be non-refundable by law, but this is usually the exception and not the norm. In most instances where it is allowed, a lease contract must contain a clause that explains instances in which a tenant would not receive their deposit back, all or in part.

Should You Pay a Security Deposit Before Signing a Lease?

No, you shouldn’t pay a security deposit before signing a lease. The best option is to pay the deposit at the same time that you sign the lease. You should ensure that the lease terms are acceptable before handing over a deposit.

Do Security Deposits Accrue Interest?

Security deposits may or may not accrue interest depending on state law. Some states, like Illinois and New Jersey, require that security deposits be placed in an interest bearing account, while other states do not require a landlord to do so.

Is a Security Deposit Mandatory?

No, a security deposit is not mandatory by law. However, it is a common requirement when renting and all U.S states allow landlords to collect a security deposit to ensure a tenant will carry out the responsibilities of the lease.

What Can I Do If My Landlord Doesn’t Return My Security Deposit?

If your landlord does not return your security deposit, you can file a claim in small claims court to collect (or hire an attorney to do so) given that any state mandated deadline to collect has not passed.

Can a Landlord Deduct Painting From a Security Deposit?

Yes, a landlord can deduct painting from a security deposit if the tenant changed the wall color after moving in and did not restore the original color before moving out. Minus wear and tear, a tenant should turn over the rental property in the same condition that it was originally received.

What Is the Difference Between a Security Deposit and a Damage Deposit?

The difference between a security deposit and damage deposit is that a security deposit refers to any advance of money used to secure the performance of a lease agreement, while a damage deposit is any advance of money that is specifically used to cover physical damage to the premises.

State-by-State Security Deposit Laws