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2 times landlords can retain some or all of a security deposit

On Behalf of | May 25, 2023 | Landlord Rights

Every residential tenant could potentially damage a property while living in a particular space, and their actions could cost the property owner money as a result. Tenants can force landlords to make repairs or fail to pay their rent, which is partially why landlords require security deposits.

When a tenant pays a flat amount before moving into a rental, they can receive their full security deposit back when they leave in many circumstances. State law does generally protect the right of individual tenants to receive their security deposit back, but there are scenarios in which landlords have the lawful right to retain some or even all of a tenant’s security deposits to recoup specific losses.

When can landlords make a claim for part of attendance security deposit in New Jersey?

When tenants damage the unit

The longer a tenant has been in a unit, the more the condition of the apartment may have changed during their tenancy. Paint will become aged and worn, and appliances made rapidly begin approaching the end of their useful lives. Landlords generally cannot make claims against security deposits for the aging or general wear and tear to a unit caused by normal use. However, landlords may be able to request compensation for unusual damage, including smoke damage, holes in walls and tears in linoleum or carpet. Any significant, documented damage can lead to claims for the reasonable cost to repair said damage.

When tenants fail to pay rent and fees

The only other reason why landlords can retain security deposit funds will generally relate to a tenant leaving without fulfilling their obligations under the lease. If they move out while there are still several months left on the rental agreement, the security deposit could help compensate for that unpaid rent. If there were fees incurred but not directly paid by the tenant, including cleaning fees during move out or fees assessed due to lease violations, then those costs could potentially come out of the security deposit as well.

Landlords will usually need to have thorough documentation for every claim they make against a security deposit and to provide a written explanation for such claims to their tenants. Learning about and following New Jersey rules for security deposits can help landlords more thoroughly cover their costs incurred when a tenant leaves their unit.