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What can my landlord deduct from my security deposit?

When a tenant moves, the landlord may apply all or part of the tenant’s security deposit to rent owed, late fees, or other charges (e.g. insufficient funds bank fees), and to damages the landlord has suffered because of the tenant’s failure to abide by the tenant’s duties under the law, or the terms of the parties’ lease.

Aside from back rent and fees, the most common item to which a landlord may apply a tenant’s security deposit is damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear. Examples of this include broken doors, damaged light fixtures, missing or broken appliances, burns in carpeting, missing blinds, and holes in walls. A landlord can also charge the tenant, by deducting from the security deposit, the cost of removing furniture or other belongings the tenant leaves behind, or for cleaning beyond what usually would be required between tenants.

A landlord cannot apply the deposit to things that need to be repaired or remedied because of normal wear and tear. For example, if a tenant lives in an apartment for five years, and causes no damage to or marks on the wall, the landlord cannot withhold from the security deposit the cost of painting the apartment between tenants, because that is normal wear and tear.

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