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How Much Time Does A Residential Landlord Have To Return A Security Deposit?


The security deposit is one of the most hotly disputed issues in landlord tenant relationships. Here are some things you should know as a residential Utah landlord to help protect you when these disputes arise.

For what things can a landlord use a security deposit?

1. To cover unpaid rent
2. To pay for damage to the premises beyond reasonable wear and tear
3. To cover other costs and fees contemplated by the lease, e.g. late fees, unpaid utilities if the tenant is responsible to pay for them, etc.
4. To cover the cost of cleaning the premises.

When does a landlord have to return the security deposit?

Within 30 days after the tenant leaves, the landlord must deliver to the tenant at the tenant's last known address the portion of any security deposit not used to pay for one of the four categories listed above. If the landlord uses all or part of the security deposit, the landlord must provide the renter with a written notice that itemizes and explains the reason for each deduction.

For example, a landlord might state that $200 was used to clean the carpet, $100 was used to fix the dent in the stove, and $400 was used to pay a professional cleaning company to deep clean the premises, wash the walls, disinfect countertops, etc. A wise landlord will also include receipts, invoices, and other documents proving the exact amount used so the tenant does not suspect that the landlord exaggerated the actual cost of cleaning or repairs. The more detailed and thorough the itemization is, the less likely the tenant will dispute the use of the security deposit.

What is the penalty if a landlord fails to return the security deposit in time?

If within the 30-day timeframe  a landlord fails to return the security deposit or provide a written itemization of the reasons the security deposit was used, and if the tenant provides proper notice to the landlord under Utah law, the landlord may have to pay back the entire security deposit, even if it was used for legitimate reasons, and may also have to pay any attorney fees and other costs incurred by the tenant as a result of the landlord's failure.

See Utah Code 57-17-3.  Deductions from deposit -- Written itemization -- Time for return.
See Utah Code 57-17-5.   Failure to return deposit or prepaid rent or to give required notice -- Recovery of deposit, penalty, costs, and attorney fees.

This Article provides general information only and should not be considered legal advice. Please consult a professional regarding your specific situation.