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Oregon State Bar: Landlord Security Deposit Fees

Posted by kristobaldude on September 13, 2012

Security deposit basics
Most residential landlords can require tenants to pay certain fees or deposits. The most common deposit is a security deposit. Security deposits protect the landlord if the tenant fails to pay the rent or causes damage to the rental premises beyond ordinary wear and tear. Your landlord cannot charge you for normal wear and tear. Moreover, your landlord can only charge you for repairs that he or she documents. In Oregon there is no minimum or maximum amount your landlord can charge for the security deposit. Your landlord does not have to pay you the interest gained on your security deposit. A landlord is required to provide a tenant with a receipt for the security deposit.

You should carefully inspect and document the condition of the rental unit before moving in and out. Photographs and witnesses can be helpful in settling disputes later on.

Can the landlord increase the amount of my deposit?
During the first year of the tenancy, your landlord may not require you to pay a new or increased security deposit unless you and the landlord agree to modify the terms of the lease; in that case the additional security deposit must relate to that modification. For example, if you want a pet and your landlord agrees to let you have a pet in the unit, he or she has the right to increase your deposit. Without such a modification to the lease, if your landlord requires you to pay an additional security deposit after you are in the rental premises for a year or more, you have at least three months to pay the increase.

Getting the security deposit back
Your landlord has to return your deposit within 31 days after the termination of the tenancy and the delivery of the rental unit to the landlord. (Note that both conditions must be satisfied before the 31-day clock starts ticking). If your landlord keeps any part of your deposit, he or she must notify you in writing and tell you why. This notice, which is also called an accounting, must be personally delivered or mailed within 31 days. If your landlord wrongfully keeps part or all of the money, you have up to one year to settle the matter or file a lawsuit for up to twice the amount of the money your landlord kept.

(Read more at: Fees and Deposits.)

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