A Civil Litigator Focused On Efficient And Cost-Effective Solutions

When is it illegal for a landlord to withhold a security deposit?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2024 | Real Estate Litigation |

Tenants have certain rights when it comes to the return of their security deposits. Georgia law sets some strict requirements for landlords to protect tenants’ rights.

If you find yourself in a situation where you suspect your landlord has unlawfully withheld your security deposit, understanding your rights can be helpful in seeking a resolution. However, it is essential to note that these rules generally only apply to landlords who own more than 10 units.

Failure to escrow

One common scenario where a tenant may have grounds to believe their landlord unlawfully withheld their security deposit is when the landlord fails to place the deposit money in an escrow account. In Georgia, it is a requirement for landlords to safely store deposits in a designated account separate from personal finances. Failure to do so is a violation of tenant rights and may serve as evidence of an illegal withholding.

Failure to provide a detailed list

Landlords must create and provide a list of initial damages to the tenant. This document serves as a record of the property’s condition at the beginning of the lease. Similarly, a final list of damages, provided at the end of the lease, also aids in transparency.

If your landlord fails to create and share these lists, it raises questions about the legitimacy of any deductions from your security deposit. It weakens their position in withholding your money.

Failure to meet the time limit

Timing is also a critical factor in the return of security deposits. According to Georgia law, landlords must furnish the list of damages and any written statements within thirty days. Failure to meet this deadline puts the landlord in a precarious position and strengthens your case against the illegal withholding of your security deposit.

Tenants have rights in place to protect them from landlords who may attempt to unlawfully withhold security deposits. Understanding these rights empowers tenants to advocate for themselves and seek a fair resolution.