What to Do to Get Your Security Deposit Back From Landlords

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What to Do if Your Landlord Doesn't Return Your Security Deposit

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If you are renting property, it is very likely that you will have to give the landlord a security deposit. This payment is designed to protect against fickle tenants and is not meant as a permanent payment. Sometimes a landlord may decide to hold onto the security deposit if he is unsatisfied with the tenancy. What do you do if this happens to you?

Security deposit rules

There are a few security deposit rules in Canada that should be understood by both parties before the lease is signed. These rules may vary depending on your location, but the following are standard according to the Director of Residential Rental Property:
  • The maximum amount of money a landlord can charge for a security deposit is one rent period, whether it be paid monthly or weekly.
  • A landlord can deny you residence if you refuse to pay the security deposit. You have 30 days to do so after agreeing to the terms of the lease.
  • Landlords must pay interest on security deposits like they are loans. The interest rate varies so contact the Office of the Director of Residential Rental Property (ODRRP) to get updated accurate rates.
  • Landlords have 10 days following the tenant's vacancy to return the security deposit and interest.
  • A "Notice of Intention to Retain Security Deposit" is required within those 10 days if the landlord believes he should keep the deposit for any reason.
  • To receive either the deposit or the notice, the tenant should leave a forwarding address. If not, you forfeit your security deposit.
  • If the tenant wants to dispute the claims in the notice, an application must be filed and sent to the ODRRP within 15 days of receipt of the notice.

What to do

If you have been a good tenant and left a forwarding address, it is the landlord's responsibility to return the deposit. If you receive a notice instead, you can fight it if you can prove the landlord's claims are false. There are only a few reasons why a landlord can legally retain your deposit:
  • You didn't adequately clean before moving out of the property.
  • You have damaged the landlord's unit beyond reasonable wear and tear.
  • You still owe the landlord rent payments.
If you can prove that you didn't do any of these things, then you have a case to get your money back. But how do you prove it?
  • Keep a copy of the original signed and dated lease on hand.
  • Before you leave, take pictures of the property after you have cleaned it. The more details the better, as long as you actually did a good job and didn't damage anything.
  • Keep all receipts of rent payments just in case the landlord cites a missed payment as the reason for holding the deposit.
Nobody wants a legal entangle, so before you involve the Rental Office, reach out to your landlord if you had a good relationship in the past. You should still have his contact information.
  • See if he simply forgot to return the deposit. Even if he was being underhanded and "forgot" on purpose, your reminder will serve as a friendly warning that you are looking for it.
  • Ask what made him upset enough to retain the deposit. Offer to repair any damage or clean the unit if that was the problem. If your time doing these tasks is worth less the the amount of the deposit, this could be a good solution.
  • If you mention that you plan to contest the notice with the Residential Property Office, the landlord may be scared into surrendering the deposit if he knows his case isn't strong.
The tenant-landlord relationship can be contentious and a retained security deposit could lead to a final climactic confrontation between two foes after a move. Luckily, there are laws to protect both parties.

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on November 25, 2014

TopMoving.ca - Moving Expert
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