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Are there rules or laws on applying my security deposit to my last months rent since I have no rental agreement or lease?

Southfield, MI |

I paid 2-1/2 months deposit, which I was told included the 1st month's and last month's rent; but I am not what the 1/2 month portion is for, unless it's some type of incidental damages coverage. The landlord has never issued me receipts, but I've made copies for my records. In the money order memo I wrote the break-down. I have fallen behind in my rent and want to live out the 1-1/2 months instead of petitioning the court to get it refunded after moving out. I don't think that I should have to pay for normal refurbishing expenses such as painting or basic cleaning because I have taken good care of the unit, not incurring damages nor is it extremely worn or soiled. Also, since I don't have a lease or rental agreement, can the landlord charge me late fees?

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Attorney answers 2


Mr. Frederick is correct. When you pay a security deposit, that is to be used for any damages the landlord suffers as a result of your tenancy. These damages can be unpaid rent, unpaid utilities, and/or actual physical damage to the property, beyond normal wear and tear.

In your case, it sounds as if the landlord has designated a portion of your security deposit to be applied to your rent for the last month of your tenancy. By notifying him of your intent to move, he then becomes obligated to apply that portion of your deposit for that purpose. The balance of the deposit remains as a damage deposit which he can use to cover the damages set forth above. It is not just for unpaid rent. I know you believe you have done no damage to the property, but the landlord is entitled to have those funds available in the event that he disagrees.

Mr. Frederick has set forth the procedures and time limits you must follow. Please be sure to adhere to them.

John J. Keenan

This response applies to Michigan law only. This initial response to your question(s) is for general purposes, only, and is based upon the limited information you have provided. Therefore, this general answer should not be relied upon as a reason for your action or inaction. This response does not establish an attorney-client relationship; such a relationship may only be established by the signing of a written retainer agreement, and the payment of the agreed upon retainer. Please call me, or another attorney of your choice, with more details, and for an appointment to discuss same. Thank you for this opportunity to address your question(s).



It was never indicated that the 1/2 month paid in excess of the two months rent paid as part of my move-in costs were for a security deposit. I just assumed that it may be for that purpose; but, my landlord just arrived at the move-in charges because she looked at a generic lease to obtain some sort of guidelines, which makes neither one of us know what it was for.

John J. Keenan

John J. Keenan


I would be very surprised if she did not consider it to be a security deposit.


What do you mean, you have no lease or rental agreement? It sounds like you have some kind of agreement. Lease agreements are supposed to be in writing. In the absence of a lease, I suppose that you have a month to month lease. Since you have already blown some of the rules, it is hard to say what a judge would do. I would try to follow the statutes as much as possible.

You would notify the landlord a month in advance of your vacating the propery, and give notice of a forwarding address within 4 days of moving out. The landlord would have 30 days to notify you of damages and then if you disagree with the damages, the landlord would need to sue you or return your security deposit. I assume that the 1/2 month is a security deposit, but it is not clear.

James Frederick

***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!

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