I Didn’t Get My Security Deposit Back. Now What?

All too often landlords in Georgia refuse to return security deposits to their tenants. Sometimes the landlord will claim that there are damages to the property or that the tenant owes back rent, other times the landlord will simply not return the money and ghost on the tenant. 

Before you read this post you may want to check out our earlier post about (link to the earlier post about protecting your deposit) and our post about what to do before you move out (link to that post, it will be a future post).

The basic law is that the landlord has to return your security deposit to you within 1 month of you moving out. If the landlord withholds any part of the deposit, even $1, they have to give you a written explanation of why they withheld that money. There are other rules too, but this is a basic law. 

So one month has passed and the check hasn’t shown up yet. Here are some things you should do next:

  • Call the landlord and ask where your deposit is. Be ready to give them your new address. Get the full name of whoever you speak to and write it down for later.
  • Send the landlord an email with your new mailing address and let them know you haven’t received anything from them yet. 
  • Go to the management office and ask them directly for your deposit back. Be polite.

Sometimes checks get lost, people get forgotten, or someone writes the wrong address on an envelope. You want to make sure the landlord didn’t make a simple mistake. But if the landlord ignores your calls or doesn’t respond to your email, or sends you something stating that they are not giving you your deposit back for whatever reason, then read on.

If the landlord sends you anything saying they are keeping your deposit for rent or damages that you do not agree with you need to object. The objection doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but it needs to be in writing. An email is writing. Something like, “Mr. Landlord, I did not damage the floors of the apartment/do not owe rent/ do not owe a water bill” is enough. 

Some landlords will send a check for part of the deposit to the tenant. If your deposit was $500 the landlord may send you a check for $100 in the mail. If the landlord sends you a check for less than the deposit and you cash it you may waive your right to get the rest of the deposit back.

If your landlord still refuses to give you your security deposit back you have a few options:

  • Do nothing, write the money off as a loss or cash a partial check the landlord sent you. This might make sense if the deposit is small or the landlord is in another state.
  • Sue the landlord yourself in small claims court for the security deposit.
  • If you live in Georgia you may be able to obtain a lawyer who will try to recover your deposit at no cost to you. (Insert a link to the contact page, or we may want another sentence of copy).

As a tenant living in Georgia you have several options of your landlord refuses to return your security deposit. Are you a resident of Georgia? We can help!