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When Do You Have to Return Security Deposits? Your Questions, Answered

Alexandra Goldthwaite - Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Property Management Blog

What's the one thing that tenants and landlords disagree on most? Usually, it relates to when landlords should return security deposits. Tenants often believe they should receive all or most of their security deposit back under several conditions. 

As a landlord, the question of when to return security deposits is crucial. The last thing you want is to violate security deposit laws in your state. Those laws dictate that there are times when you should return this money.

If you find yourself asking, "When should I return security deposits?" you've come to the right place! In this guide, we'll explore some scenarios that would require you to return your deposit. So, without further ado, let's get started!

Returning Security Deposits When a Tenant Leaves

At the end of a tenant's time on your property, you'll have to return at least a portion of their security deposit. How large of a portion depends on several things. 

When you conduct your pre-move-out inspection, you may notice that parts of the property now have damage that didn't exist when the tenant moved in. In such cases, you can use a portion of the security deposit to pay for repairing damages.

However, if you decide to use the security deposit to cover this, the tenant usually has a right to know about it. So, you'll need to provide them with a notice. This way, tenants can elect to fix the problems themselves and receive their complete deposit. 

Time Frame for When to Return Security Deposits

You may wonder how long you have after a tenant moves out to return their security deposit. The answer depends on the state law under which you operate. However, in most places, you have between 14 and 30 days. 

Some states have outlier codes. For example, Alabama allows you up to 60 days to return the safety deposit after a tenant leaves. The state specifies this policy in Alabama Code 35-9A-201(b) to (h)

California law, however, gives only 21 days to return the deposit. This state does not allow landlords to have nonrefundable deposits. If you're unsure about how long you have, consult with a lawyer about your state's codes.

How to Keep Track of When to Return Security Deposits

If you own several properties, you may find it challenging to keep up with everybody's renting situations. In such cases, it's easy to overlook when you need to return a security deposit. So, how can you navigate this challenge?

One way to do so is by hiring a property management service. These organizations act as mediators between landlords and tenants.

They offer both parties several resources to make their renting experience simple. By trusting these companies, you can better keep track of your responsibilities.

Hire a Property Management Service Today!

If you were wondering, "Can I keep all my security deposits?" the answer is no. State laws require you to return your security deposit to tenants under various conditions. 

If you hate keeping up with all this data, enlist some help! We at Sacramento Property management help landowners and tenants alike have the best-renting experience. Contact us today to learn more!