Getting your security deposit back

You have done your part: left your rental home in good condition, paid your rent in full and given enough notice. Here’s what to do when your landlord won’t do theirs.

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Understanding the Basics

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Your security deposit should only be used to pay for damages that you have caused or to cover expenses if you break the lease early. It is not for "reasonable wear and tear." 

After you move out, your landlord is required to give you a list of reasons why they are not returning your deposit or return that money to you within 30 days. As long as you have:

  • Left your rental unit in good condition
  • Provided your landlord with your forwarding address
  • Paid your rent in full, up to — and including — your final month

So what if you’ve done all of these things and your landlord is keeping your security deposit anyway?

Send a letter

Use this template to write a letter to your landlord. In the letter, be direct and ask for your security deposit back.

When you send the letter, be sure to:

  • Include your forwarding address.
  • Use certified mail and request a return receipt.
  • Keep a copy of the letter and certified mail receipt for yourself.

Consider filing a lawsuit in small claims court

If your landlord still does not return your deposit after about 30 days, you can file a case against them in small claims court. Think through whether the amount of the security deposit is worth your time in filing the claim and then appearing at a hearing. For more on how to file and what to expect, see the Ohio Judicial Conference’s detailed guide to small claims court.

Local Government and Community Resources

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