Most landlords will require a security deposit from you. A security deposit is a dollar amount, usually equal to one month’s rent. The purpose of the security deposit is to cover any damage to the apartment or house that is more than just the usual “wear and tear” on the property. The security deposit can also help the landlord cover the rent if you decide to leave without paying the last month.
If your apartment is not rent controlled or rent subsidized, there is no limit on the amount of the security deposit your landlord can require. There may be a cap on the amount of the security deposit if your apartment is rent controlled or rent stabilized.
When you move out of your apartment, your landlord must provide a security deposit return within a “reasonable” time. There is no law that says what a “reasonable time” means, but the court would probably say your landlord has between 21 and 45 days to return your security deposit after you move out and return the keys.
Be sure to take many pictures of your apartment after you have moved out and before you give the keys back to the landlord, to minimize any dispute about the condition.
Legal Editor: David Kaminsky, December 2014 (updated February 2016)
Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.