Statute of Limitations on Landlord-Tenant Security Deposit Disputes
What is a Security Deposit?
A security deposit is a refundable fee that a new resident gives to their landlord in addition to advance rent payment. The security deposit is essentially an insurance on the property in the event that the tenant causes any damages made by the tenant that exceeds ordinary wear and tear. A landlord may use some or all of the security deposit to cover:
- Unpaid rent;
- Unpaid utility charges or other lease or financial obligations;
- Repairing damages caused by the tenant, his or her guests, or pets that exceed ordinary wear and tear;
- Cost of undoing any changes made by the tenant.
When must a Landlord Return a Security Deposit After a Lease is terminated?
A landlord is required to return any security deposit made by the tenant within 15 days of termination of the lease unless the landlord intends to make a claim on the security deposit.
How Long May a Landlord Withhold a Security Deposit if he/she Intends to Impose a Claim?
If a landlord intends to make a claim on a tenant’s security deposit, then the landlord must notify the tenant within 30 days of lease termination. If a tenant disputes the claim for the security deposit, then the landlord must hold the security deposit until the dispute is over. A landlord can potentially withhold a security deposit for up to 60 days.
What Happens if a Landlord Does Not Return a Tenant’s Security Deposit?
Once a dispute over the security deposit is resolved, the landlord is required to return any remaining balance of the security deposit to the tenant. If, however, the landlord does not return the portion of the security deposit a tenant is owed, then the tenant can make a demand for the payment. If such demand is not complied with, the tenant may sue for the remaining balance of the security deposit and attorneys’ fees and costs.
Contact Our DC Law Office for More Information
Finally, for more information regarding statutes of limitations on landlord tenant security deposit deisputes, contact us at 202-803-5676. You can also directly schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys. Additionally, for general information regarding real estate law, check out our blog.