Most off-campus rentals require payment of a security deposit before a tenant moves in. Under North Carolina law a security deposit is fully refundable if the tenant has paid rent every month and has not damaged the rental property. Unfortunately, security deposits are not always promptly returned after a tenant moves out. Here are a few tips to help you get your security deposit back:
- Know the security deposit law.
The North Carolina “Tenant Security Deposit Act” requires landlords to refund a tenant’s security deposit within 30 days of the end of the tenancy (typically the end of the lease period). If the security deposit is not fully refunded, the landlord must provide a written accounting of how the deposit was used. The security deposit can only be used to cover the specific types of costs incurred by the landlord that are listed in the Tenant Security Deposit Act. These include unpaid rent, damage to the rental property caused by the tenant, and the cost of re-renting an apartment after a tenant has breached the lease (in other words, administrative costs incurred by the landlord if a tenant moves out early). The Act expressly states that the security deposit may not be used to cover damages caused by ordinary wear and tear – and that the amount deducted must be based on the actual costs of the landlord.
- Document, document, document!