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The Ultimate Guide for Writing a Security Deposit Return Letter. Best Practices for Landlords.

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Returning a security deposit is one of the most essential tasks for landlords or property managers at the end of a lease. However, it can be a complex process. Tenants may have different expectations or requests, and there may be legal requirements to follow. That's why it's essential to have a clear and professional security deposit return letter outlining the deposit amount, any deductions, and the timeline for returning the balance. In this article, we'll provide a step-by-step guide on how to write a security deposit return letter, including some tips and best practices.

Deposit boxes

In this article, we'll cover the following sections:

Understanding the purpose of a security deposit

A security deposit is a sum a tenant pays at the beginning of a lease to cover potential damages, unpaid rent, or other lease agreement violations. The purpose of the deposit is to protect the Landlord's investment and ensure that the property is returned in the same condition as when it was rented. Depending on the state or local laws, there may be limits on the deposit amount, the reasons for withholding it, and the timeline for returning it.

In Florida, landlords must return the deposit, with interest if applicable, within 15 days after the lease ends if they are not claiming the security deposit. However, suppose the Landlord intends to claim any portion of the security deposit. In that case, written notice must be provided to the Tenant by certified mail to their last known mailing address within 30 days of vacating the property, with a clear reason for keeping the deposit. Failure to provide notice within the 30-day period forfeits the Landlord's right to keep the deposit. Should the Tenant not object to the notice within 15 days of receipt, the Landlord may keep the stated amount and must return the remaining deposit to the Tenant within 30 days after the notice date.

Reviewing the lease agreement

Before writing a security deposit return letter, it's essential to review the lease agreement to see if there are any specific provisions or requirements related to the deposit. For example, the lease may state that the Tenant must provide a forwarding address within a certain number of days after moving out or that the Landlord must provide an itemized list of deductions within a specific timeframe.

Inspecting the rental unit

After the Tenant moves out, the Landlord or property manager should thoroughly inspect the rental unit to check for any damages or cleaning issues. This inspection should be done within a reasonable time after the Tenant vacates. The Tenant should be allowed to be present or request a walkthrough. It's essential to document any issues with photos or videos and to be objective and fair in assessing the property's condition.

Determining deductions and damages

Based on the inspection, the Landlord or property manager should determine if any deductions should be made from the security deposit for damages, cleaning, or unpaid rent. It's important to distinguish between normal wear and tear and actual damage and to provide receipts or estimates for any repairs or services. If there are any disputes or disagreements about the deductions, the Landlord should try to resolve them amicably or seek legal advice if necessary.

Regarding cleaning, landlords in Florida may not deduct cleaning costs if it's normal wear and tear. Refer to the following to determine which items are considered wear and tear.

Wear and Tear (Landlord's Responsibility)

  • Faded paint or wallpaper that occurs over time due to everyday living

  • Carpet that has worn down from regular foot traffic

  • Minor scuff marks on walls from furniture or everyday use

  • Dust accumulation that happens over time

  • Loose grouting or tiles in the bathroom or kitchen

  • Loose door handles or hinges due to normal wear and tear

  • Faded or worn flooring in high-traffic areas

  • Worn-out kitchen countertops or cabinets due to everyday use

  • Minor chips or scratches on appliances

  • Small holes in walls

  • Minor marks and scuffs on the walls

Damage or Excessive Cleaning Needed (Tenant's Responsibility)

  • Holes in the walls that are beyond normal wear and tear

  • Stains on carpets or walls that cannot be removed through regular cleaning methods

  • Broken or missing window panes or doors

  • Broken or damaged light fixtures or switches

  • Excessive dirt, grime, or filth that has accumulated due to neglect or misuse

  • Burns, cuts, or tears on furniture or carpets beyond normal wear and tear

  • Water damage caused by the Tenant's negligence or lack of maintenance

  • Mold or mildew that resulted from the Tenant's failure to ventilate or clean the property properly

  • Broken or damaged kitchen appliances due to negligence or misuse

Calculating the balance

Once the deductions are determined, the Landlord or property manager should calculate the security deposit balance that should be returned to the Tenant. This balance should be clearly stated in the security deposit return letter, along with the deadline for returning the balance and any interest due.

Writing the security deposit return letter

The security deposit return letter should be written clearly and professionally and should include the following information:

  • The date of the letter and the Tenant's name and address

  • The amount of the security deposit and the balance due

  • The deductions and the reasons for them, with receipts or estimates attached

  • The deadline for returning the balance and any interest due

  • A forwarding address for the Tenant to contact in case of any questions or disputes

Sample Letters

Letter when not claiming on the security deposit


Re: Security Deposit Refund

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

I am pleased to inform you that your security deposit for the rental property at [Property Address] has been fully processed. Your full deposit amount of [Amount] is enclosed. We have completed a thorough inspection of the rental unit and have found no damages or cleaning issues that need to be addressed.

We thank you for taking good care of the property during your tenancy and being a responsible and reliable tenant. Your timely departure and cooperation made returning your security deposit much easier.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this security deposit return, please do not hesitate to contact us at [Your Contact Information]. We value your feedback and are committed to providing you with excellent service.

Once again, we appreciate your tenancy and wish you all the best in your future endeavors.


[Your Name]

[Your Contact Information and Address]

Letter when making a claim on the security deposit

Sending the letter and the balance

The security deposit return letter should be sent to the Tenant by certified mail or with proof of delivery, along with the balance due. It's essential to keep a copy of the letter and any attachments for your records and any evidence of delivery or communication.

If the Tenant has provided a forwarding address, send the letter to that address. Suppose the Tenant still needs to provide a forwarding address. Attempt to get the Tenant's new mailing address by contacting them. You may send the certified mail to your rental property's last known address, as it's the last known address, and many tenants set up mail forwarding.

Handling disputes and legal issues

If the Tenant disputes the deductions, balance, or other legal issues related to the security deposit, it's essential to handle them professionally and promptly. It's a good idea to seek legal advice to ensure compliance and best practices.


Returning a security deposit is an essential part of the landlord-tenant relationship, and it's important to do it right. Following the steps outlined in this article, you can write a clear and professional security deposit return letter that protects your rights and meets your obligations. Remember to review the lease agreement, inspect the rental unit, determine deductions and damages, calculate the balance, write the letter, and send it with proof of delivery. Doing so can minimize disputes and legal issues and maintain a positive and productive relationship with your tenants.


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