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Security Deposit Limits

A woman in her 50's in her home takes a picture of a check for remote deposit capture to her bank account.  Depicts the ease of security deposit check with smart phones.

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Renters typically are required to pay a security deposit as part of the lease agreement. Usually, this amount is equal to one month's rent, but security deposit limits are established by state law. You typically pay this right before you move in.

The deposit is returned to the tenant upon the termination of the lease, minus any amount needed for repairs or other costs passed onto the landlord. Normal wear and tear on the rental property, such as carpet being slightly worn after a year, should not affect getting the deposit back. 

The landlord's use of the security deposit is limited to the tenant's obligations and responsibilities as spelled out by the lease agreement. It can usually be used to cover unpaid rent.

After You Move Out: Time Limit For Deposit Return

Most state security deposit laws specify a time limit in which landlords must give a security deposit back to a departing tenant. For example, landlords have:

  • A one month limit for returning deposits in Colorado
  • Just 14 days in Arizona
  • In Montana, deposits must be returned within ten days if there are no deductions (30 days if there are deductions)

Other provisions of security deposit statutes may include walk-through inspections and escrow account requirements.

Types of Tenant's Security Deposits

Below are the general categories of security deposit limits, and the states that adhere to each. Use this as a general resource. But, always check your state and local laws and your rental agreement for any modifications, as there are often exceptions to these general rules.

Exceptions can include:

  • If you have pets
  • Renting for a long duration
  • The apartment is furnished
  • You plan to use certain types of furniture (such as waterbeds)

For more information about the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, see FindLaw's Tenant RightsLandlord Rights, and Landlord-Tenant Disputes sections. 

Some security deposits are in interest-bearing accounts, so you can make a small profit if there is no damage to the rental unit.

Depositing One Month's Rent

  • Alabama and Delaware (applies to leases of 12 months or more)
  • District of Columbia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and New Mexico (applies to leases of 12 months or less)
  • New York, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania (unless it's your first year of renting, then the limit is two months)
  • Rhode Island and South Dakota (deposit the same amount as your first month's rent)

Depositing One and a Half Month's Rent

  • Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey, and North Carolina (for month-to-month tenancies)

Depositing Two Month's Rent

  • Alaska (where the rent is under $2000/month)
  • Arkansas, California (unfurnished), and Connecticut (for people under the age of 62)
  • Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and North Carolina (for tenancies longer than two months)
  • Virginia (just two month's rent)

Depositing Three Month's Rent

  • Nevada and California (furnished)

No Limit on Amount of the Security Deposit

  • Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

Security Deposit Limits: Additional Resources

If you have additional questions after reading this article and want to continue your research, the good news is that you can. 

Click on the links below to learn more about security deposit-related matters:

Have Questions About Security Deposit Limits? Ask an Attorney

As you can see, there are limits to the amount that a landlord can require as a security deposit. Renters can easily be unsure about the security deposit limits in your state or have other concerns regarding the lease agreement. KNow that you have the right to take your landlord to small claims court over real estate issues like this.

It may be a good idea to speak with a local landlord-tenant attorney. They will be able to answer your questions and make sure all of the lease terms comply with state laws.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help you navigate any landlord-tenant issues.

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