You’re moving in Texas, and you are really looking forward to getting your security deposit back. It’s a nice chunk of change that will go a long way towards paying for new furniture, covering your first payment for the new place or simply padding your savings account.
But you haven’t gotten the security deposit back even though you moved out of your old place several days ago. What gives?
Turns out Texas law dictates how long a security deposit can be held, and it may be longer than you realize.
Security Deposits Can Be Held for 30 Days
That’s right. A landlord can legally hold onto a security deposit for a month after the move out date. Why so long?
The landlord is able to retain some or all of the security deposit when a renter breaches the contract in certain ways. After all, a security deposit is required for this express purpose. The security deposit specifications should be spelled out in the lease contract. Typically, the security deposit can be retained for past due rent, cleaning fees and repairs beyond normal wear and tear.
Landlords have to have time to fully assess the property and figure out costs to know how much to deduct from the security deposit if need be. The landlord then needs to provide a written notice stating why the security deposit is being withheld or deducted along with an itemized list of the deductions.
The legal powers of Texas have determined 30 days is a fair amount of time for the landlord to get this done without unfairly putting out the tenants.
What About Pet Deposits?
A pet deposit is a separate security deposit that’s sometimes required when the renter wants to keep a pet on the property. The same rules apply to pet deposits, unless it is expressly stated that the deposit is non-refundable.
What to Do If a Landlord Holds a Security Deposit Beyond 30 Days
As long as you left the property in good condition, gave notice of your intent to move out and provided a forwarding address for where the security deposit should be sent, the landlord is required to give back some or all of the security deposit. It’s not common, but there are instances when a landlord holds on to a security deposit past the 30-day mark.
If that happens:
Send a written demand letter. The first step is to send the landlord a written demand letter stating that you want your security deposit back. Mention that it has been longer than 30 days since the move out and include your forwarding address again.
Give the landlord time to respond. Allow 7-10 days for the landlord to respond. If they fail to respond or state that they don’t intend to return the deposit without good reason and an itemized list of deductions it’s time to move on to legal measures.
File a lawsuit. Section 92.109, Property Code lays out landlord liabilities. If your security deposit is improperly withheld you can sue for:
- + Three times the amount of the security deposit wrongly withheld
- + Court costs
- + Attorney fees
The lawsuit should be filed through the Justice of the Peace or JP court. It may take some time, but as long as you weren’t in breach of the lease, fully paid your rent and left the property in good condition you should get your security deposit funds back.
At Square Cow Movers our rates are so reasonable you don’t have to stress about getting your security deposit back ASAP. We’ll help you get everything carefully moved out of your old place and into a new home whether it’s in the same neighborhood or a long distance move out-of-state.
Give us a call or fill out the online form to get an instant moving quote!