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The Finer Points Of A Rental Security Deposit

Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to dc@curbed.com.


What about my security deposit?
Every rental arrangement is going to require some kind of security deposit. However, the landlord is not allowed to ask for more than the one month's rent as a security deposit and sometimes they will only ask for a half a month’s rent. Sometimes they will require you pay it to hold the lease in your name or on the day you move it, however if the landlord seems reasonable you can try to ask for a week or two leeway while you wait to get your prior security deposit back from the last place you rented.

DC law states that within 45 days after you move out your landlord must either return your security deposit plus interest or notify you in writing that he or she plans to keep all or part of your security deposit. Additionally, your landlord may inspect your apartment from 3 days before to 3 days after the end of your tenancy to see if you have caused any damages beyond normal wear and tear. Notice of this inspection must be sent to you at least 10 days before the inspection. Of course things can be a bit relaxed between the two parties, but that’s the official law. The best part: any landlord who “acts in bad faith” in failing to return a security deposit will have to give you triple the amount of the security deposit. Cha-ching!

Rental Accommodations and Conversion Division (RACD) of the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.