Understanding Security Deposits

If you are a renter, you likely paid your landlord a security deposit when you first moved in to your home or apartment. Security deposits are meant to protect the landlord in case something is damaged while you are a tenant. A security deposit cannot be used, however, to cover ordinary wear and tear items. Failing to return a security deposit is one of the leading causes of landlord/tenant disputes in New Jersey.

How Much Can the Security Deposit Be?

In New Jersey, a residential security deposit can not exceed 1.5 times the monthly rent. If the landlord raises the rent, however, he can collect additional funds as security, but he cannot collect more than 10% more than the original security deposit.

Who Does the Security Deposit Belong to?

Although the security deposit is held by the landlord, it still technically belongs to you. The landlord must hold the security deposit in an interest bearing account, and let the tenant know where the money is being held.

How Long Does the Landlord Have to Return a Security Deposit?

The landlord has 30 days from the date a tenant moves out to refund the security deposit. If the landlord only issues a partial refund or refuses to issue any refund, he must send the tenant a list of damages and the cost of repairs. This notice must be sent by certified mail. If the landlord does not refund a security deposit within the 30-day time period, the tenant may be able to sue the landlord for double the security deposit plus attorneys’ fees.

My Landlord Won’t Give Me My Security Deposit Back!

If your former landlord refuses to return your security deposit, you may need to get help from a lawyer. Our attorneys would be happy to talk to you about your situation and determine if your rights as a tenant have been violated. If you are a landlord and your property has been damaged by a tenant, we can help you figure out whether you are entitled to keep the security deposit.

Contact us today to talk about your case!