Renters' Responsibilities

Landlords may require a security deposit that will be used to cover any unpaid rent or damages you cause. This money must be refunded within 30 days of the end of the rental agreement. The landlord, however, may deduct the cost of any repairs that he or she has to make, other than maintenance from normal wear and tear. Any charges deducted from the security deposit must be listed separately and sent with the remainder of the deposit. If you disagree with the deductions or you do not receive the security deposit, you may sue your landlord.

A landlord can require any amount for a security deposit. A few states require the landlord to pay you interest on your deposit.

Security Deposit and Eviction

Troubleshooting

If your landlord is not living up to his or her legal responsibilities, or if a government agency determines that the apartment has a health or safety violation, you have several courses of action available to you.

You can sue the landlord for money damages. You can also force the landlord to make the required repairs. Send a notice to the same address as the rent checks are sent and the landlord is required to make the repairs within 30 days.

If the landlord fails to make these changes, don't stop paying rent. Here are some options you can take, however, that will stop the landlord from collecting your rent:

  1. Instead of mailing the rent, take the rent check to the clerk of courts. The clerk of courts will hold this money until the repairs are made. You still need to stay current on rent payments.
  2. Ask the court to legally force the landlord to make the repairs. In addition to ordering the repairs, the court may also decrease the rent for the period the repairs are not made.
  3. Simply end the lease and move out of the apartment. You still must give proper notice.

Eviction

Hopefully your rental experience will not include an eviction. But if you don't pay your rent, don't live up to your end of the lease agreement or refuse to leave at the end of the lease, your landlord may evict you.

The landlord must serve you a written eviction notice. After a few days, the landlord can file that eviction notice in court. If the landlord wins his suit for eviction, and you still don't vacate, the landlord can ask a local law enforcement officer to remove you from the apartment.