LawRefs Customized Legal Information
Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Security Deposit – Get It Back From Your Landlord!

Make Your Landlord Give Your Security Deposit Back.

Is the security deposit Amount Legal?

Is there a beginning and ending inventory checklist?

Did the landlord meet his deadlines?

First, the amount of the security deposit can’t be more than 1.5 times the monthly rent.  MCL 554.602.

Next, there must be identical beginning and ending inventory checklists.  MCL 554.608.

The list MUST say — in 12 point boldface type at the top of the first page — “You should complete this checklist, noting the condition of the rental property, and return it to the landlord within 7 days after obtaining possession of the rental unit. You are also entitled to request and receive a copy of the last termination inventory checklist which shows what claims were chargeable to the last prior tenants.”

The tenant completes the list and gives a copy to the landlord within 7 days of possession.  At the end, the landlord completes his inventory checklist itemizing damages caused.

Most importantly, there are deadlines that must be followed.

Within 14 Days of Possession

Landlord must notify tenant within 14 days of possession, in writing, how to communicate with him, what to communicate with him, the bank where your deposit was presented, and your obligation to provide your forwarding address in writing within 4 days after you leave.

Notice  MUST say — in 12 point boldface type which is at least 4 points larger than the body of the notice or lease agreement — “You must notify your landlord in writing within 4 days after you move of a forwarding address where you can be reached and where you will receive mail; otherwise your landlord shall be relieved of sending you an itemized list of damages and the penalties adherent to that failure.” Failure to provide the information relieves the tenant of his obligation relative to notification of the landlord of his forwarding mailing address.

Within 30 Days from Termination of Occupancy

LANDLORD mails itemized damages list, estimated cost, amount tenant owes, and basis for that amount; and a check or money order for any remainder.  MCL 554.609.

Landlord can’t include damages claimed on a previous termination inventory checklist from a prior tenant.

Notice MUST say — in 12 point boldface type which shall be at least 4 points larger than the body of the notice — “You must respond to this notice by mail within 7 days after receipt of same, otherwise you will forfeit the amount claimed for damages.”

*If landlord misses deadline, tenant gets full security deposit and is relieved of damages claimed.  MCL 554.610.

Within 4 Days from Termination of Occupancy

TENANT sends forwarding address.

*If tenant misses deadline, landlord does not have to give you notice of damages claimed.  MCL 554.611.

Within 7 Days from Receipt of Notice of Damages

TENANT mails landlord whether he agrees with specific detail.  MCL 554.612.

Within 45 Days from Termination of Occupancy

Landlord takes tenant to court to keep all or part of the security deposit.  The action is for ‘money judgment for damages claimed’.

*Deadline doesn’t apply if tenant did not provide forwarding address or failed to respond to the notice of damages.

*Deadline also doesn’t apply if amount claimed is entirely based upon unpaid rent from tenant’s possession.

Landlord trouble?  Commence an action, without an attorney, in small claims court.  Or, contact the attorney general to bring an action on your behalf.  MCL 554.615.

Landlord Tenant Act, MCL 554.601 – MCL 554.616


  1. I had a 30-day notice to leave my apartment. I was never given a reason why and constantly tried contacting him and asking him why I was being asked to leave. The only response I ever got was ‘I want repossession’. Even though I never found out why and the communication was terrible, I still moved out before the 30 days had ended. I left him my forwarding address with my key on the day I moved out. It has been 31 days and I have not received my deposit or any information on damages that he may have found. If I write him a letter to tell him he has violated the law and I will need my security deposit in full, how long does he have to respond to my letter/give me my full deposit? And if I still don’t hear from him after sending him a letter about it, how soon can I take him to court?

    • Dear Alicia:

      Just so you know, the landlord does not have to give you a reason why he is asking you to leave. Merely stating, “I want repossession.” is sufficient. Since the landlord has 45 days after you move out to take you to court, wait for this time period to expire before you take him to court.