What Do Landlords Need to Know about Security Deposits?

What Do Landlords Need to Know about Security Deposits?

The average charge for a security deposit across most of North America is one month's rent. Of course, some landlords charge more than that, but it might be due to extenuating circumstances. In New York, the rules are quite strict about the security deposit being no more than one month's rent.

Security deposits are a fundamental aspect of the landlord-tenant relationship, serving as a financial safety net for landlords in case of tenant damage or unpaid rent. However, there are rules and responsibilities associated with security deposits. Landlords must stay compliant with the law and maintain positive tenant relations.

In this article, we'll explore what tenant law in Melville, NY says about security deposits.

Purpose of a Security Deposit

A security deposit is a sum of money paid by a tenant to a landlord before moving in. Its primary purpose is to protect the landlord's interests by providing a financial cushion in case of specific tenant-related issues. Some of these issues are:

Unpaid Rent

If a tenant fails to pay rent as agreed, the landlord can use the security deposit to cover the unpaid rent. When the rent continues to be unpaid, the landlord can begin eviction proceedings against the tenant through the court system.

Damage to Property

The security deposit can be used to repair any damages beyond normal wear and tear that occur during the tenant's occupancy. This is particularly true if the damage is due to the tenant's fault.

Cleaning Costs

Sometimes a tenant leaves the rental unit in a condition that requires excessive cleaning. The security deposit can then cover those costs.

Breach of Lease Agreement

Hopefully, you have found yourself good tenants that don't cause trouble. If not, then the security deposit can be used to help compensate for losses due to breaches of lease agreement terms.

Legal Requirements

Landlords must be aware of the legal requirements and regulations surrounding security deposits, as these vary by jurisdiction. Here are some common legal considerations to take into account if you own rental property in Melville, NY.

Deposit Holding

New York requires landlords to hold security deposits in a separate, interest-bearing account. Interest earned typically belongs to the tenant.


Landlords should provide tenants with a receipt for the security deposit, specifying the amount and the date it was received. This can be electronic or paper.

Move-In/Move-Out Inspections

Conducting a thorough move-in and move-out inspection with the tenant can help document the property's condition and avoid disputes over damage. Take photo evidence so no one can argue about damage after.

Timelines for Return

State laws often dictate how quickly landlords must return a tenant's security deposit after they move out. Typically, this is within a specific number of days (usually 30) after the tenant vacates the property.

Abide by the Law When It Comes to Security Deposits

Security deposit law in NY is quite strict, so you need to be aware and follow the rules to a T. If you aren't sure about anything related to security deposits, then make sure to consult a lawyer or hire a property management company to take care of your properties for you.

Contact Property Management Inc. to learn more about our full-service property management services in Melville, NY.