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Security Deposits

What is a Security Deposit?

Landlords may require that you pay a security deposit as a condition of renting. The security deposit is often the equivalent of one month’s rent, but may be less or more than that depending on the circumstances.

  • If your security deposit is more than one month’s rent and is being held for more than six months, you are entitled to interest on the amount that is in excess of the monthly rent.
  • The security deposit is completely refundable to the tenant at the end of the lease term if the tenant has met all of the expectations of the lease and has not damaged the property or caused the landlord to incur additional unusual expenses related to the tenancy.
  • Landlords are entitled to withhold money from a security deposit for legitimate expenses that they have incurred that go beyond normal wear and tear and routine maintenance of the property.  If you have unpaid rent, utilities, fees associated with damages that you caused, or there are cleaning expenses to restore the apartment to the condition it was in when you took possession of it, the landlord can legitimately deduct these items from your security deposit.


How do I get back my security deposit at the end of my tenancy?

To ensure that you get back the security deposit money that you are entitled to, you should do the following:

  1. At move out, thoroughly clean your apartment, remove all trash and personal belongings, and return all keys and parking passes (if applicable) to the landlord.  It is appropriate to request a receipt when returning these items.
  2. Take thorough photographs and/or video of your apartment to document the condition.
  3. Provide your landlord with written notice of your forwarding address so that your security deposit can be returned to you.  Keep a copy of this for your records.  See sample letter in our Security Deposit Packet.


When is my Landlord required to return my Security Deposit?

Once you have moved out, your landlord has 30 days in which to return your security deposit or provide you with an itemized statement explaining why any portion of that security deposit has been kept.  If you do not receive your security deposit or an itemized statement within 30 days, Ohio Landlord/Tenant Law entitles you to file a complaint for your security deposit, damages, costs, and attorney fees.

If you have not received your security deposit within 30 days, we advise students to send a letter to their landlord demanding it.  This is often the most efficient means of resolving the issue and getting your money back.  See sample letter in our Security Deposit Packet.


I have already paid my Security Deposit … do I have to pay my last month’s rent?

YES.  Your security deposit is never a substitute for paying your last month’s rent unless you have a specific agreement with your landlord.  If you do not pay your rent on time, your landlord may file an action for eviction against you.  This could cost you additional money and negatively impact your credit history.

This information does not constitute legal advice, nor is it intended as a substitute for legal advice.