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.
|State||Security Deposit Limit|
|Alabama||1 month’s rent|
|Alaska||2 months’ rent|
|Arizona||2 months’ rent|
|Arkansas||2 months’ rent, but if a landlord owns less than six properties, compliance with the two month maximum is not required|
|California||2 months’ rent (unfurnished unit); 3 months’ rent (furnished property)|
|Colorado||No statutory limit|
|Connecticut||2 months’ rent (tenant under 62 years of age); 1 month’s rent (tenant 62 years of age or older).|
|Delaware||1 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 Columbia||1 month’s rent|
|Florida||No statutory limit|
|Georgia||No statutory limit|
|Hawaii||1 month’s rent|
|Idaho||No statutory limit|
|Illinois||No statutory limit|
|Indiana||No statutory limit|
|Iowa||2 month’s rent|
|Kansas||1 ½ months’ rent (furnished unit); 1 month’s rent(unfurnished unit)|
|Kentucky||No statutory limit|
|Louisiana||No statutory limit|
|Maine||2 month’s rent|
|Maryland||2 months’ rent|
|Massachusetts||1 month’s rent|
|Michigan||1 ½ months’ rent|
|Minnesota||No statutory limit|
|Mississippi||No statutory limit|
|Missouri||2 month’s rent|
|Montana||No statutory limit|
|Nebraska||1 month’s rent|
|Nevada||3 month’s rent|
|New Hampshire||1 month’s rent or $100, whichever is greater|
|New Jersey||1 ½ month’s rent|
|New Mexico||1 month’s rent (lease agreement under a year); More than one month’s rent (lease agreement a year or more)|
|New York||No 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 Dakota||1 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)|
|Ohio||No statutory limit|
|Oklahoma||No statutory limit|
|Oregon||No statutory limit|
|Pennsylvania||2 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 Island||1 month’s rent|
|South Carolina||No statutory limit|
|South Dakota||1 month’s rent|
|Tennessee||No statutory limit|
|Texas||No statutory limit|
|Utah||No statutory limit|
|Vermont||No statutory limit|
|Virginia||2 months’ rent|
|Washington||No statutory limit|
|West Virginia||No statutory limit|
|Wisconsin||No statutory limit|
|Wyoming||No 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.
|States||Security Deposit Return Deadline|
|Alaska||Between 14 and 30 days|
|District of Columbia||45 days|
|Florida||Between 15 and 30 days|
|Idaho||Between 21 and 30 days|
|Illinois||Between 30 or 45 days|
|Kansas||Between 14 and 30 days|
|Kentucky||Between 30 and 60 days|
|Maine||30 days, or 21 days for at-will tenancy|
|Minnesota||3 weeks, or 5 days if the building or rental unit is legally condemned|
|Montana||10 and 30 days|
|New Hampshire||30 days|
|New Jersey||30 days, or 15 days (victim of domestic violence); 5 days (displacement)|
|New Mexico||30 days|
|New York||Within a reasonable time-frame|
|North Carolina||30 days|
|North Dakota||30 days|
|Rhode Island||20 days|
|South Carolina||30 days|
|South Dakota||45 days|
|West Virginia||Between 45 and 60 days|
|Wyoming||Between 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.
|Maine||Includes but not limited to:|
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
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- District of Columbia