Security Deposit

When Must a Landlord Return a Security Deposit?

A landlord has 30 days from the day a tenant moves out to return a security deposit. A tenant is generally considered “moved out” when the key(s) to the rental unit have been returned to the landlord.

For what reasons may a landlord keep a security deposit?

A landlord may apply a security deposit to the payment of past due rent and to the payment of the amount of damages caused by the tenant.

NOTE: Typically, landlords may charge for repairs necessary to restore a rental unit to its condition at the beginning of the tenancy. However, landlords may not use the tenant’s security deposit to cover the costs of normal wear and tear. See our Normal Wear & Tear vs Damages page.

What must a landlord do if they want to keep a security deposit?

If a landlord does not return a security deposit, they must send the tenant an itemized list of damages and the cost of repairing each of those damages as justification for keeping the deposit.

What can a tenant do if a landlord fails to return a security deposit or charges them for damages they did not make?

A tenant may first contact their landlord requesting the return of the security deposit and/or a list of damages and the cost of repair that has been deducted fromt he security deposit. You may use our Request Return of Security Deposit sample letter as a guide to write your own letter. Make a copy of your letter for your records and mail a copy to your landlord with a certificate of mail from the post office.

If a landlord refuses to return a tenant’s security deposit and /or a tenant disagrees with the reason(s) the landlord has refused to return the deposit, a tenant may take the landlord to small claims court.

Procedures for security deposits - Ohio Revised Code §5321.16

(A) Any security deposit in excess of fifty dollars or one month’s periodic rent, whichever is greater, shall bear interest on the excess at the rate of five per cent per annum if the tenant remains in possession of the premises for six months or more, and shall be computed and paid annually by the landlord to the tenant.

(B) Upon termination of the rental agreement any property or money held by the landlord as a security deposit may be applied to the payment of past due rent and to the payment of the amount of damages that the landlord has suffered by reason of the tenant’s noncompliance with section 5321.05 of the Revised Code or the rental agreement. Any deduction from the security deposit shall be itemized and identified by the landlord in a written notice delivered to the tenant together with the amount due, within thirty days after termination of the rental agreement and delivery of possession. The tenant shall provide the landlord in writing with a forwarding address or new address to which the written notice and amount due from the landlord may be sent. If the tenant fails to provide the landlord with the forwarding or new address as required, the tenant shall not be entitled to damages or attorneys fees under division (C) of this section.

(C) If the landlord fails to comply with division (B) of this section, the tenant may recover the property and money due him, together with damages in an amount equal to the amount wrongfully withheld, and reasonable attorneys fees.



Fair Housing Contact Service is a HUD approved Housing Counseling Agency that provides tenants and landlords with information and resources concerning their housing. The information provided on this page is intended to be used for general information regarding your rights as a tenant and the duties of a landlord under the Ohio Landlord Tenant Act. We are not attorneys. The information should not be taken as legal advice as we are not attorneys, but it may help you decide if and when you should pursue legal advice. Be sure to contact an attorney before taking any court action regarding a legal matter.