Apartment Security Deposit Laws by State

Get Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Security Deposits

Woman sorting out bills
ONOKY - Eric Audras/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

One of the big expenses you'll need to budget for when looking for an apartment is paying a security deposit. This deposit may be as much as one or even two times the amount of your monthly rent. Although you should get your security deposit back after you move out of your apartment (if all goes well), you won't be able to touch that money for as long as you occupy your rental.

The main purpose of a security deposit is to give your landlord an easy way to collect from you in case you cause sizable damage to your apartment while living there.

Also, since tenants know that their landlord is holding this money, the security deposit may serve as an incentive to keep your place in good shape and leave it in broom-clean condition.

Tenants often have questions about their security deposit.

For example, before you sign a lease, you may want to know how much you'll need to pay for a deposit and whether you're entitled to any interest on the amount you pay. Later, when your tenancy is coming to an end, you'll no doubt want to know what you need to do to get your security deposit back in full and how long you'll need to wait.

The answers to these questions vary based on where you live. Every state, as well as the District of Columbia, has its own laws spelling out tenants' and landlords' rights and responsibilities when it comes to handling security deposits. Taking a moment to get familiar with security deposit basics in your state will help ensure you don't pay more than you need to, you get your security deposit back in full and on time, and avoid unpleasant surprises.

If you're planning on moving to a different state, it's also a good idea to check the laws of that state to see if security deposits are handled differently from what you're used to.

Click on your state below to learn the answers to frequently asked questions about security deposit law: