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  • Andrea Bade

My Landlord Wants a Security Deposit. What does it mean? Will I get it back?

You entered into a residential lease agreement and the landlord asks for a security deposit. How much money can a landlord ask for a security deposit? How can you get it back once the lease ends? How long will it take the landlord to give it back? Here is some basic information to help guide you through your current or next lease.

How much money can a landlord charge for a security deposit?

A landlord can charge no more than 2 months rent as a security deposit. That is the maximum amount allowed for a security deposit under VA law.

When my lease is up, how long will it be before my landlord returns my security deposit?

  • The landlord has 45 days to give you back your security deposit

  • The 45 days starts when you leave the house or when the lease ends. It is whichever event occurs last.

  • You must give your landlord your new address so they can return your security deposit.

What if my landlord is keeping some of my security deposit?

If you landlord decides to keep some of the security deposit for damages, they must provide you with an itemized list of charges, damages, and deductions within 45 days and give you the remainder of the security deposit.

What if my landlord is keeping the entire security deposit?

The landlord must tell you within 45 days that they are keeping the entire security deposit and provide you with an itemized list of damages.

What if my landlord says they are keeping the security deposit and I owe more money?

The landlord must tell you that the damages are more than the security deposit within 45 days. As long as the landlord gives you notice of this fact within 45 days, then the landlord has an additional 15 days to provide the tenant with an itemized list of damages.

When can the landlord keep my security deposit?

A landlord can keep your security deposit for a number of reasons:

  • If you failed to pay rent – including late fee charges

  • For the payment of damage to the property “beyond reasonable wear and tear”

  • Other damages that are stated in the lease

  • Damages for breach of the rental agreement

  • Damages for a tenant’s failure to maintain the property (see Virginia Code 55.1-1227)

  • Utility bills (if you show the landlord your receipts of paying final utilities, then the landlord must return any money held from the security deposit to pay for utilities)

What can I do if I think the landlord has wrongly kept part or all of my security deposit?

You can file a Warrant in Debt case in the County or City where the rental property was located. You can also ask that the landlord pay for your attorney fees. If the Court finds that the Landlord has “willfully” failed to comply with the law, then attorney fees should be granted based on Virginia Code Section 55.1-1226.

Checkout Virginia Code Section 55.1-1226. That’s the section that talks all about security deposits.

If you have questions about a new potential lease agreement or are worried your security deposit was wrongfully withheld, feel free to call Shaia’s Law! We don’t charge our clients until we have talked to them and done a brief evaluation of their case. We never want to charge someone if we don’t think we can help.

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