What Is A Security Deposit?

The Ohio Landlord­Tenant Law permits a landlord to collect a security deposit to cover the costs of:

  • unpaid rents or charges, and
  • repair of tenant­caused damages, in excess of normal wear and tear, to the property

The landlord is required to return the security deposit to the tenant within 30 days of the time that the tenant gives up occupancy (ie. moves out and turns in the key) and terminates the rental agreement. The tenant is required to provide the landlord with a forwarding address in writing.

If the landlord makes a deduction from the security deposit, the landlord is required to provide the tenant with a written itemized accounting of the money that is withheld.

If, after 30 days, the landlord has not returned the deposit or the itemized accounting, or if the tenant disagrees with the landlord’s decision to withhold some or all of the security deposit, then the tenant may sue for double the amount which the tenant believes was wrongfully withheld.

If the tenant’s claim is for less than $2000, the tenant may file in the Small Claims Court in the city where the property was located.

A security deposit is given by the tenant to the landlord to “secure” the tenant’s performance under the tenancy. A pet deposit, key deposit, garage deposit, or last month’s rent paid in advance may all be part of the security deposit. If the total security deposit is greater than one month’s rent, the landlord owes 5% interest on the amount in excess of one month’s rent.

A deposit to “hold the unit,” an application fee, or a fee for a credit check are probably not security deposits. Before giving or receiving money, be clear about what the money is for and whether it is refundable.

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