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Security Deposits

State law sets forth specific laws governing the return of security deposits with most states imposing limits on the amount of security deposit a landlord can collect. Generally, the limit is one months' rent but at least one state allows up to three months' rent for a furnished property.  In addition, most states require a landlord to return security deposits within a specified time after termination of a lease agreement. Usually, the landlord is required to itemize any deductions withheld from a security deposit and in some instances pay interest on the monies.

A security deposit should not be confused with an advance payment of rent. Security deposits are held in trust by the landlord in the event of damage to the leased premises by the tenant or the tenant's invitees. The landlord may also collect an advance payment of rent, usually the last months' rent, at the inception of the lease agreement to assure the landlord that of this payment before the tenant vacates the leased premises. Usually, a tenant is not allowed to use a security deposit in lieu of the last months' rent.

Both state and local laws govern security deposits and can be very specific as to how the landlord must hold them. This can vary from no specific requirement to deposit within a separate interest bearing checking account.

State by State Security Deposit Requirements

Alabama No statutory requirements   Montana Return: 30 days
Alaska Return: 14 days if proper notice provided by tenant, otherwise 30 days   Nebraska Return: 14 days
Arizona Return: 14 days   Nevada Return: 30 days
Arkansas Return: 30 days   New Hampshire Return: 30 days
California Up to 2 months' rent for unfurnished apt and up to 3 months' rent for furnished apt. Return: 21 days   New Jersey Return: 30 days
Colorado Return: 30 days   New Mexico Return: 30 days
Connecticut Return: 30 days or 15 days after receiving tenant's forwarding address, whichever is later.   New York Return: Within reasonable time
Delaware Return: 20 days   North Carolina Return: 30 days
DC Return: 45 days   North Dakota Return: 30 days
Florida Return: 15 days unless tenant disputes deductions, then 45 days.   Ohio Return: 30 days
Georgia Return: 1 month   Oklahoma Return: 30 days
Hawaii Return: 14 days   Oregon Return: 30 days
Idaho Return: 21 days (up to 30 if tenant agrees)   Pennsylvania Return: 30 days
Illinois Return: 30 days unless tenant disputes deductions, then 45 days   Rhode Island Return: 20 days
Indiana Return: 45 days   South Carolina Return: 30 days
Iowa Return: 30 days   South Dakota Return: 2 weeks
Kansas Up to 1 months' rent for unfurnished apt and up to 1 1/2 months' rent for furnished apt. Additional 1/2 months' rent for pet deposit. Return: 21 days   Tennessee No statutory requirement
Kentucky Return: 30 days   Security deposit must be deposited in separate account.   Texas Return: 30 days
Louisiana Return: 30 days   Utah Return: 30 days
Maine Return: 21 days if "at will" tenancy and 30 days with lease agreement   Vermont Return: 14 days
Maryland Return: 30 days   Virginia Return: 30 days
Massachusetts Return: 30 days   Washington Return: 14 days
Michigan Return: 30 days   West Virginia No statutory requirement
Minnesota Return: 3 weeks after return of possession and receipt of forwarding address   Wisconsin Madison only: 1 months' rent. Everywhere else no limit.
Mississippi Return: 45 days   Wyoming No statutory requirement
Missouri Up to 2 months' rent.  Return: 30 days