Tips for getting a security deposit back

Posted at 12:45 PM, May 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 13:48:52-04

This is the time of year when a lot of us are moving out of an apartments and anxiously awaiting the return of a security deposit. But, unfortunately, not all of these deposits are returned in full or in a timely manner. Here is why:

Although most landlords are fair and timely in returning a security deposit, they may have the right to withhold all or part of a deposit for unpaid rent, damage caused by you or a guest, or your unpaid utilities that your landlord had to pay.

Keep in mind, your landlord has 21 days from the end of your lease or from the date a new tenant moves in to return a security deposit.

To increase your chances of receiving a full refund in a timely manner, here is what you can do: provide a written notice of your intent to move and make sure that you are following the terms and conditions of your lease. It may be a good idea to send this via certified mail, return receipt requested so that you have proof if needed later.

Make sure that your apartment is clean and free of damage that could be considered beyond normal wear and tear. If possible, have the landlord or building manager do a check out with you and have both parties document that things are in good order.

And, make sure to provide your landlord with an accurate address to forward your security deposit. No forwarding address is a very common reason why refunds get delayed.

If you believe that your landlord has unfairly withheld all or part of your security deposit, you can file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, or contact our Call 4 Action office for help.