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Can a Landlord Charge More Than the Security Deposit? (in all 50 states)

Can a Landlord Charge More Than the Security Deposit? (in all 50 states)

For those searching for a new house or apartment to rent, one of the most common questions they have is, “Can a landlord charge more than the security deposit?” 

When it comes to limits on security deposits, each state has its own legal guidelines. But you’re in luck! We’ve assembled a state-by-state guide detailing how much a landlord can charge when you move into a rental unit. 

The question also comes up for tenants upon moving out of a rental unit. What happens if there are damages inflicted on the dwelling beyond what would be covered by the security deposit? Can a landlord charge more than the security deposit when they claim you’ve damaged the apartment? This is a more hazy area of the law, but we have some information that might be helpful.

Can a landlord charge more than the security deposit when I move out? 

Before we talk about security deposit guidelines for moving in, let’s talk about what happens when you move out. 

These guidelines also vary depending on where you live, but state laws aren’t entirely clear in stating what the limits are. 

No matter where you live, the purpose of the security deposit is to cover the cost of damages to the dwelling that go beyond normal “wear and tear”, as well as unpaid rent or utilities, and anything else agreed upon in the lease. What constitutes “wear and tear” is highly subjective. In other words, people will interpret this in different ways. 

In most cases, you can assume that a few scratches on the hardwood, faded paint, or rust on kitchen hardware shouldn’t cost you anything. However, if there is heavy damage to floors or walls, the apartment is extremely dirty, or windows are broken, your landlord may be entitled to take a deduction from your security deposit. Typically, when your landlord is going to keep part of your security deposit, they have to provide you with an itemized list of the damages.

But here’s where it gets tricky. If your landlord believes that damage to the rental unit exceeds the total amount you provided in the security deposit, they may try to collect more than the total of the security deposit. 

The landlord may try to do this by:

  1. Sending you a bill for the cost of the damages. 
  2. Filing a suit in small claims court. 

It does not appear that states set limits on the amount that a landlord can charge beyond the security deposit, but this does not mean they can charge whatever they want. They are required to send an itemized list of the damages, and they are only allowed to charge for the cost of the repairs. Further, if a tenant is sued in small claims court, the landlord has to show proof of the damage, and prove that the damage was caused by the tenant. This is why it’s important for tenants to keep good records, including photos of the premises upon moving in and moving out. 

If you are experiencing issues with a landlord who is trying to collect more than your security deposit at move-out time, it is recommended that you contact the state agency that helps with landlord-tenant disputes. A directory of those agencies with contact information is available here

man moving boxes into a new house in article on can a landlord charge more than the security deposit

Can a landlord charge more than the security deposit when I move in?

In short, the answer to this question is usually yes. However, there are laws in each state that govern exactly how much a landlord can charge beyond the security deposit. Find your state in the alphabetical list below for more information. 

Alabama

Landlords may not charge more than the equivalent of one month’s rent as a security deposit. However, there is not a limit to the amount of “prepaid rent” a landlord can collect. They may also collect a pet deposit when appropriate. 

Alaska

Where the rental unit is less than $2,000 per month, the landlord cannot charge more than the equivalent of one month’s rent as a security deposit. However, the landlord is allowed to collect “prepaid rent”. They may also collect a pet deposit equaling no more than one month’s rent. Landlords may not collect pet deposits for service animals. 

Arizona

In Arizona, the amount of money a landlord can charge up front cannot exceed 1.5 months’ rent. This includes both the security deposit and any prepaid rent. 

Arkansas

Landlords may charge the equivalent of up to two months’ rent as a security deposit. However, this law only applies to landlords who rent more than six dwellings. 

California

The equivalent of up to two months’ rent may be charged as a security deposit for an unfurnished apartment. The equivalent of up to three months’ rent may be charged as a security deposit for a furnished apartment. Landlords are also allowed to collect prepaid rent (i.e. last month’s rent) in CA. 

Colorado

In Colorado, there is no limit to how much a landlord may charge as a security deposit. 

Connecticut

Landlords may charge the equivalent of up to two months’ rent as a security deposit. However, if the tenant is 62 years or older, the landlord may only charge the equivalent of one month’s rent. Landlords are also allowed to charge prepaid rent (i.e. last month’s rent).

Delaware

Landlords may not charge more than the equivalent of one month’s rent as a security deposit, unless the rental unit is furnished. If the unit is furnished, there is not a limit. 

Florida

There is no limit to the amount a landlord may charge for a security deposit. 

Georgia

In the state of Georgia, there is not a limit to how much landlords may charge for a security deposit. 

Hawaii

Landlords are only allowed to collect the equivalent of one month’s rent for the security deposit. They may not collect any additional money, like prepaid rent or the cost of making keys. 

Idaho

There is not a limit to what landlords may charge for a security deposit. They may also charge prepaid rent in addition to the security deposit if they choose to. 

Illinois

There is not a limit to what landlords may charge for a security deposit. It does not appear that anything restricts landlords from charging prepaid rent. 

Indiana

Indiana law does not specify any limit on how much landlords may charge tenants for a security deposit. 

Iowa

Landlords in Iowa may not charge more than the equivalent of two months’ rent for a security deposit. 

Kansas

The state of Kansas allows landlords of unfurnished rental units to collect security deposits equaling no more than one month’s rent. If the rental unit is furnished, they may collect up to 1.5 months’ rent. Landlords are allowed to charge an additional security deposit of up to half of one month’s rent if the tenant has a pet.

Kentucky 

The state of Kentucky does not place any limits on how much a landlord may charge for a security deposit. 

Louisiana

The state of Louisiana does not place any limits on how much a landlord may charge for a security deposit.

Maine

Maine landlords may not charge more than the equivalent of two months’ rent for a security deposit. Please note that this law does not apply if the building has fewer than five units, one of which is inhabited by the landlord. 


Massachusetts

Landlords may charge the equivalent of one month’s rent. They may, however, charge you for last month’s rent and the cost of a lock and key.  

Michigan

Landlords may charge up to the equivalent of one and one half months’ rent for a security deposit. 

Minnesota

The State of Minnesota does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit

Mississippi

The State of Mississippi does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. 

Missouri

Landlords are not permitted to charge more than the equivalent of two months’ rent for a security deposit. 

Montana

The State of Montana does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Nebraska 

In Nebraska, landlords may charge up to the equivalent of one month’s rent as a security deposit. They may also charge pet deposits, but the amount cannot exceed ¼ month’s (approximately one week) rent. 

Nevada

The total amount that landlords can collect up front cannot exceed the equivalent of three months’ rent. That includes the security deposit and any prepaid rent (i.e. last month’s rent). If the landlord agrees, the tenant also has the option of purchasing a surety bond instead of putting down a deposit. 

New Hampshire

Landlords may collect no more than the equivalent of one month’s rent as a security deposit. However, this law only applies to landlords who own six or more rental units. 

New Jersey 

Landlords may not collect the equivalent of more than 1.5 months’ rent as a security deposit. This amount also includes pet deposits and any prepaid rent (i.e. last month’s rent). In other words, the landlord cannot charge a pet deposit on top of a 1.5 month security deposit. 

New Mexico 

In New Mexico, landlords may charge “reasonable” security deposit amounts for lease agreements lasting more than one year. The law does not specify what “reasonable” means. If the rental agreement is for less than one year, then the landlord cannot charge more than the equivalent of one month’s rent. 

New York

The state of New York allows landlords to charge only the equivalent of one month’s rent as a security deposit, and they are not permitted to charge any prepaid rent (i.e. last month’s rent). It is also illegal to charge tenants for the cost of keys in NY.

North Carolina 

Landlords can charge up to the equivalent of two months’ rent for a security deposit. However, if a tenant is in a month-to-month arrangement they can only charge 1.5 months’ rent. If a tenant is in a week-to-week arrangement, they can only charge two weeks’ rent. Landlords in NC can also charge a non-refundable pet fee on top of the security deposit. The law states that the pet fee must be a “reasonable” amount, but does not set a specific limit. 

North Dakota

Landlords can charge a security deposit equal to one month’s rent. They are also allowed to charge a pet fee on top of the security deposit. ND landlords can also require up to two months’ rent as a security deposit if the tenant has a felony conviction. 

Ohio

The State of Ohio does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Oklahoma

The State of Oklahoma does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Oregon

The State of Oregon does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. The law does specifically state that no fee can be charged for service animals and companion animals used by tenants with disabilities. 

Pennsylvania 

Landlords in PA can charge the equivalent of up to two months’ rent for a security deposit. 

Rhode Island 

Landlords may charge the equivalent of up to one month’s rent for a security deposit. They are also permitted to request prepaid rent (i.e. last month’s rent). 

South Carolina

The State of South Carolina does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

South Dakota

The State of South Dakota does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Tennessee 

The State of Tennessee does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Texas

The State of Texas does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Utah

The State of Utah does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Vermont

The State of Vermont does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Virginia

Landlords in Virginia may charge the equivalent of up to two months’ rent for a security deposit. 

Washington

The State of Washington does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

West Virginia

The State of West Virginia does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Wisconsin

The State of Wisconsin does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Wyoming

The State of Wyoming does not place limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Remember, as a tenant, you have certain rights that a landlord must respect. If you feel that your tenant rights are being violated, contact the state agency that deals with tenant-landlord disputes. A state-by-state listing of those agencies is available here

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