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My landlord is keeping my security deposit – what do I do?

The landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant within 30 days of the time that the tenant gives up occupancy (i.e., moves out and turns in the key) and terminates the rental agreement. The tenant must provide the landlord with a forwarding address in writing.

The Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law permits a landlord to apply a security deposit to cover the costs of unpaid rents or charges, and any repair of tenant-caused damages to the property, in excess of normal wear and tear. If the landlord makes a deduction from the security deposit, the landlord is required to provide the tenant with a written itemized accounting of the money that is withheld.

If, after 30 days, the landlord has not returned the deposit or the itemized accounting, or if the tenant disagrees with the landlord’s decision to withhold some or all of the security deposit, then the tenant may sue for double the amount which the tenant believes was wrongfully withheld.  If the tenant’s claim is for less than $3000, the tenant may file in the Small Claims Court in the city where the property was located.