Security Deposits: Information and Forms
Texas Property Code chapters 92.101 through 92.109 protect renters' rights to get a security deposit refunded.
Generally, the landlord has 30 days after the tenant surrenders the premises to refund the security deposit. If the tenant leaves the unit in good condition (except for normal wear and tear), the security deposit is refundable.
A landlord can keep part of the deposit—but only if the non-refundable portion has a different name, like “redecorating fee” or “make-ready fee.” If the landlord keeps all or part of a security deposit, the landlord must give the tenant a written description and itemized list of all deductions—provided that the tenant meets certain conditions. To learn about those conditions, click here, and see Texas Property Code chapter 92.1031.
The Austin Tenants' Council offers these tips on increasing the chances of getting your security deposit back:
- Move-in inventory inspection. Make a list of everything that is broken, stained, or defective when you move in. Sign the list. Ask the landlord to sign it, too. Take pictures, video, or get an impartial witness to see the apartment during move-in. Send one copy of the list to the landlord and keep another.
- Move-out notice. A lease may require that the tenant give the landlord 30 or 60 days' written notice before moving out to get the security deposit back. Carefully review the lease three months before you plan to move: many landlords require 60 days' notice.
- Move-out inventory inspection. When you prepare to move, clean the apartment. Ask the landlord to appear for an inspection. Make another inventory. If you have any disputes, negotiate them on the spot.
- Turn in the keys. Turn in the keys on the exact day you move out. If you turn in the keys later, the landlord may be able to charge additional rent or other fees.