One of the biggest bones of contention that many landlords and residents have is regarding the security deposit. In almost every case, refunding part of or all of a security deposit is based on conjecture, and in almost every case, the tenant believes they left the apartment or rental space in much better condition than the landlord did. However, when it comes time to refund part of or all of the security deposit, it helps to have a handy letter already made up that you can enclose a check with. This can be and should be an extremely simple letter, especially if you aren’t withholding any of the deposit. If you are, it only gets slightly more complicated.
To start, try to print the letter on any type of official letterhead that you might use or at least on personal stationary so that there is no doubt that the letter came from you. Next, just as you would with any formal letter, start with the address of your tenant followed by your address. At the start of the letter, simply state that this is their security deposit (or pet deposit or both) return for the time that tenant rented from you (state the full time of occupation). If the unit was returned to you in pristine condition, state that everything is in good shape and that they are receiving 100 percent of their original deposit. Thank them and sign.
Now, if you feel it necessary to withhold part of or all of the security deposit, you will need to include a bit more detail. Start with any violations that you feel cost your tenant their security deposit. If you can, include pictures (digital or Polaroid, don’t send originals) of the damage that you feel cost them part of or all of their security deposit. Also, thanks to the magic of cut and paste, try to include the exact clauses in the lease that you feel they violated. The more proof you include in your security deposit refund letter, the better off you’ll be.
Now, unless your tenant has already agreed to take less of their deposit back, you will likely face a few angry phone calls or even a call to small claims court, so if you have any physical evidence left over, make sure you record it and document it because you will likely need it later on.
If you required your tenant to leave more than one kind of deposit, such as a pet deposit or another kind of deposit, you might want to write a separate letter, using the same essential style and template as the one described above, for each deposit. Many landlords require a separate pet deposit left, while others charge other kinds of deposits based on what their tenant does.
As you can see, a security deposit refund letter is a pretty straight forward way of communicating with your tenant, but if you feel it necessary to keep part of or all of the security deposit, you will find this kind of letter to be a bit more complicated.