What Does My Landlord Deposit Return Letter Need To Say?

Concentrated young brunet female is sitting on couch and attentively reading letter in loft apartment

What Does My Landlord Deposit Return Letter Need To Say?

There is a lot of stress around the move out process with a tenant – particularly around the landlord deposit return letter. So, what does it need to say and when does it need to be sent?

Before we get started, let me ask you a questions.

Do you have any idea what can happen if the letter says the wrong thing and isn’t sent on time?

You can actually be fined!

That’s right, if the letter is incorrect or money not returned on time, you can actually end up paying money. Sometimes it is as much as three times the original deposit. This is regardless of whether they would have gotten the deposit back.

Said another way, the tenant can destroy the house and if you screw this step up, you can end up owing them money!

Let that sink in…doesn’t make sense, does it?

Let’s take a look at the appropriate time and what it needs to say . . .

1. In Alabama, the letter and security deposit (if any) must be mailed to the tenant within 60 days of the tenant surrendering the property. This is MUCH more than other states. Typically state Landlord Tenant law requires 30 days. Not in Alabama, they just recently changed this from 35 days.

2. It must be mailed to the last known address or the forwarding address (if it was provided). Typically when a tenant submits notice, they will know where you should forward the move out accounting and security deposit. If it isn’t on the notice, they will usually provide it to you when they turn in keys. However, if they don’t (and sometimes they won’t), you will be required to send it to the last known address . . . which is typically the property.

3. The letter must include a complete accounting of the tenant’s security deposit, if you aren’t returning a portion of it. Meaning if you have kept any of the deposit for damages to the property or unpaid rent, then you need to show what you spent (or plan on spending) to cover the damages or rent. We will typically itemize the charges and then show the application of the security deposit to those outstanding charges.

4. Can you charge for something you are not going to fix? This is a question I get a lot and the answer is yes. If the tenant put a scratch on your hardwood floor, you aren’t’ required to actually have it fixed to charge the tenant for the damage. You need to make sure that what you charge the tenant is reasonable to fix the problem, but it can certainly be charged.

5. The letter can be and should be simple. Don’t try to over do the letter. Simply keep it basic and focus on clearly communicating what happened to the tenant’s security deposit.

6. You don’t need to include a letter if you are sending them the whole deposit. What’s the point?

For your help, I’ve included a copy of our move out letter. You are welcome to use our format and use it as a tools when making your own.

Good luck with your tenant’s move out process and good luck sending them the landlord deposit return letter.

Here’s a copy of a letter we might send to a tenant:

Tenant Name 123 Main Street Anytown, TN 37000

Re: Security Deposit Statement

Dear {Tenant Name}:

Enclosed please find an itemized list of charges. Based on these charges, you have a balance due of $347.98.

Credits: Security Deposit $750.00

Total Credits $750.00

Charges: Trash and Debris Removal $500.00 Replace Torn Carpet Strips – Living Room $88.50 Replace Missing Grease Pans on Stove $59.00 Replace Globe on Fixture – Bedroom 3 $15.00 Outstanding Amount $435.48

Total Charges $1,097.98

Amount Due $347.98

Please remit the balance due immediately. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the charges or balance due, please contact us at [email protected]