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Security Deposit 101

As a tenant, you’ve probably wondered about your security deposit. What is a security deposit? When do I get my security deposit back? Where does the landlord keep my security deposit? What if the landlord doesn’t return my security deposit? This article takes a brief look into the New Jersey Security Deposit Law in an attempt to help you understand your rights and the landlord’s obligations under New Jersey law.

What is a Security Deposit? The Security Deposit Law applies to most residential lease agreements in New Jersey. A security deposit is paid to the landlord by the tenant at the beginning of a lease. The deposit is usually the same amount as one month’s rent, but the landlord can charge up to one and one-half times your one month’s rent. For example, if your monthly rent is $1,000.00, your landlord can ask for any amount up to $1,500.00 for your security deposit. The deposit is kept by the landlord and used as a “security blanket” in case the tenant causes any damage beyond normal wear and tear to the rented property. If there is damage beyond normal wear and tear to the property at the end of your lease, the landlord can apply all or a portion of your security deposit to help with the apartment’s repairs.

Where Does the Landlord Keep My Security Deposit? Under the Security Deposit Law, the landlord is required to keep your deposit in a separate bank account that pays interest. The landlord is also required to tell you in writing where your security deposit is located (the name and address of the bank), the amount of the deposit, the type of account the money was placed in, and the interest rate for that account. This information must be sent by the landlord within thirty days of when the landlord receives your security deposit. Your landlord must also send you the same information if you renew your lease, if the landlord moves your deposit to another account, each time your landlord pays you the interest on your account, and if the landlord gives control or ownership of the property to another person.

The security deposit and the interest that your deposit gains while in the bank account are both yours. Your landlord is required to return the interest to you each year that you renew your lease, either by cash or by applying it to your rent payments. If your landlord fails to put your security deposit in a bank account or fails to pay you your interest, there are options available to you that can help you receive proper interest payments.

When Do I Get My Security Deposit Back? The landlord is required to return your security deposit and interest to you within thirty days of the end of your lease. This must be done by personal delivery, registered or certified mail. If the landlord deducts any money from your security deposit, he or she must also include an itemized list of the deductions that were made. Deductions can be made for rent owed, damage to the property, and other items. You may choose to file a complaint in court if you believe that your landlord has wrongfully withheld your security deposit.

The most important aspects to remember about your security deposit are that the money and interest are yours even though it is held by your landlord and that there are remedies available to you as the tenant if your landlord does not properly hold or return your security deposit.


This article was created for informational and educational purposes only. It is not legal advice. Please read our full disclaimer here.

Ahmad Law Offices

187 Millburn Avenue
Suite 103
Millburn, New Jersey
p: 973-346-7560
f: 973-346-7561

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