Are You Being Evicted? Get Legal and Financial Help
Security Deposit

Security Deposits

A security deposit is any money paid to the landlord in addition to the rent when a tenant moves into a property. It is sometimes called a damage deposit or last month’s rent. The purpose of the deposit is to protect the landlord in case there is unpaid rent or damage to the property when the tenant moves out. The landlord must hold this money for as long as the tenant lives in the property. The deposit money is the property of the tenant.

Non-Refundable Cleaning Deposits

Some landlords require a deposit from all tenants for routine cleaning after the tenant moves out including things like carpets and drapes. This kind of deposit is not a security deposit and is not refundable.

Limits on Amount of a Security Deposit

A security deposit cannot be more than 1 1/2 times the monthly rent. For example, if the monthly rent is $1,000, the security deposit cannot be more than $1,500.

Return of the Security Deposit

There are specific steps both the landlord and the tenant must take when the tenant moves out of the property. These steps must be followed for the landlord to keep all or part of the security deposit and for the tenant to get back all or part of the security deposit. The steps begin when the tenant moves in.

  1. When Moving In

    Within 14 days of the tenant moving in, the landlord must give the tenant a notice with the landlord’s name and address and the address of the bank where the security deposit has been placed. This notice must also tell the tenant that within 4 days of moving out the tenant must give the landlord a forwarding address.

  2. When Moving Out

    Within 4 days of moving out, the tenant must give the landlord their forwarding address in writing.

  3. List of Damages

    Within 30 days after the tenant moves out, the landlord must send the tenant a list of claimed damages, including an estimated cost of repairs for each item and the difference between the security deposit and the cost of repairs.

  4. Response to the List of Damages

    Within 7 days of receiving the list of damages, the tenant must respond to the landlord in writing stating whether they agree or disagree with the claimed damages. If the tenant does not respond with 7 days, it means they agree with the damages. If the tenant disagrees, the landlord must file with the court within 45 of the tenant moving out to ask to keep all or part of the security deposit. 5.

  5. After 45 Days

    If the landlord has not returned the security deposit or filed a case with the court asking to keep it within 45 days after the tenant moves out, the tenant can file a case with the court and ask for double the amount of the security deposit.

For Informational Purposes Only:  This summary is provided for basic informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. For legal advice about your situation, you must talk to a lawyer.

Additional Resources
  • Michigan Legal Help offers articles and forms creation at no cost.
  • Free legal advice for renters through the Grand Rapids Urban League. All are welcome and no appointment is needed. Bring any paperwork with you. HOURS:
    2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month from 5 pm to 7 pm
    at the Grand Rapids Urban League at 745 Eastern Ave SE, Grand Rapids
    1st and 3rd Monday of each month from 12 pm to 2 pm
    at Steepletown Neighborhood Services at 671 Davis Ave NW, Grand Rapids
  • The Grand Rapids Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service offers a 30 minute conference with a lawyer for $25. Call (616) 855-0273 for an appointment.
  • Visit or call the Legal Assistance Center.