Securing Your Security Deposit

What is a security deposit?

  • A security deposit is any required prepayment of rent other than the first month's rent.  During the time that you live in off campus housing, your landlord holds on to the security deposit, but it is still your money!

How can I get my security deposit back after I vacate the property?

  • Within 4 days of the end of your tenancy (or any time prior) you must notify the landlord in writing of a forwarding address indicating where to return the security deposit. Keep a copy of the notification for your records.
  • Within 30 days of the end of your tenancy your landlord must return the full security deposit, or send you an itemized list of damages along with any undisputed money. 
  • Within 7 days of receiving the itemized list of damages, you MUST respond to the landlord’s claim of damages in writing by regular mail. (Again, keep a copy of your response for your records.)
  • Within 45 days from the time you have vacated the property, the landlord must sue to retain any disputed security deposit money. If the landlord fails to sue to retain the disputed security deposit, you may be entitled to double the amount of the deposit withheld.


What should I do before I move out of my rental property?

When you are ready to move out of your off campus housing property make sure that you return your keys, remove all of your property from the rental unit, clean the property and take pictures/video to document the condition of the property at move out.

Make sure to review your lease agreement for any other procedures required by your landlord.


What can the landlord deduct from my security deposit?

A security deposit can be used to reimburse the landlord for actual damages to the rental unit – not damages that result from “normal wear and tear.”

A security deposit can also be used to reimburse the landlord for unpaid utility bills and past due rent. The landlord may not deduct from the security deposit for cleaning.


Security deposits are regulated by the Michigan Landlord-Tenant Relationships Act, which can be found here.             

If you have questions regarding your security deposit, please make an appointment with the University of Michigan Student Legal Services. You may arrange for an appointment by calling: 734.763.9920 


Contributed by: Gayle Rosen, University of Michigan Student Legal Services