What Is a Security Deposit?
A security deposit, usually equal to one month’s rent, is a sum of money given to the landlord as a guarantee that the tenant will not damage the property. This is also known as a damage deposit or an application fee.
Generally, the security deposit is returned to the tenant at the end of their tenancy unless there are damages over normal wear and tear. The landlord can keep all or part of the security deposit if damages are found when the tenant leaves, but they must provide an itemized list of damages before taking any money from the security deposit. In some cases, renters may need the return of their deposit prematurely, such as if they lost their job, need to move for work, or are moving out of town.
If a landlord fails to return the money within a reasonable amount of time, the renter may require the assistance of a security deposit lawyer to help them obtain satisfaction. If you require assistance in recovering your security deposit, the Edmonds Law Office of Civil Rights may be able to help.
Georgia Security Deposit Law on Returning a Renter’s Deposit
State law requires the landlord to return the tenant’s security deposit with interest if they do not have any reason to withhold it. Landlords are required to return the renter’s deposit within 30 days of move-out. The landlord can request an extension of up to 60 days with written notice to the renter. They are allowed one extension per rental unit, not per tenant.
The tenant’s security deposits must be returned with a written itemized statement describing deductions. These may include:
Property damage caused by the tenant
If there are discrepancies between the landlord and tenant regarding the specific details, the tenant might require assistance in taking legal action to fight for their funds. If you are facing a stubborn and unreasonable landlord, consult an Atlanta landlord-tenant attorney.
How Do You Ask for a Security Deposit Back?
The security deposit must be refundable to the tenant if they do not cause any damage to the property, but it can be forfeited if they do. When the time comes for you to move out, you will want your security deposit paid in full. Here is how you can go about asking for it back:
1. Call your landlord and confirm that they have received your notice of intent to vacate and the date you will be moving out.
2. Ask them if they would like you to send them an itemized statement of damages or if they would like you to come by with a professional cleaning crew and take photos of any damages that were not already documented.
How to Sue Your Landlord for Security Deposit
Just as a landlord can sue a tenant for damages to the property, unpaid rent, or unpaid utilities, a tenant can sue the landlord for deposits that were withheld. If you are a tenant and your landlord has wrongfully withheld your security deposit, you may be able to sue them in small claims court.
The first step to suing a landlord is to send them a written demand letter including everything you plan to sue them for and a deadline for their response. An experienced attorney can help you prepare the letter.
Security Deposit Lawyer to Help You Retrieve Your Security Deposit
A security deposit lawyer focuses on landlord-tenant law and has experience in retrieving security deposits. This type of attorney is incredibly valuable to you when you need legal advice about landlord-tenant rights and can help you to get your security deposit back. A security deposit lawyer will also ensure that your landlord abides by security deposit laws that affect you.
Security Deposit Lawyer at the Edmonds Law Office for Civil Rights
The tenant is supposed to leave the rental home in the same condition it was in when they moved in. If there is any damage or unpaid bills, you can expect to pay for them upfront.
You can resolve this by negotiating with your landlord and agreeing on how much money should be refunded to you. However, if you want to ensure that you receive all of your deposit back, then contact the Edmonds Law Office of Civil Rights for help. Our firm is experienced in helping renters assert their rights and navigate complex landlord-tenant matters. Book a free consultation today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if the Landlord Doesn't Return a Security Deposit in 30 Days?
If a landlord does not return a security deposit in 30 days, the tenant has the right to file an unlawful detainer lawsuit. The tenant must then serve the landlord with a summons and complaint for an unlawful detainer suit.
The tenant should then make sure that they have proof of the last month’s rent payment and evidence of their tenancy.
The court will schedule a hearing date, usually within 14 days of filing the complaint, and will notify both parties about it. If neither party appears at this hearing, the judge may grant possession to one party based on which party produced more evidence at trial.
What Happens if the Damage is Higher Than the Security Deposit?
The tenant must pay for the difference if the move-out inspection shows that the damage exceeds the security deposit. The tenant may also be responsible for paying for any damages that were not disclosed at the time of move-in. It is therefore important to inspect any property thoroughly before you move in and document any damages.