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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 sure not what the 1/2 month portion is for, unless it's for incidental damages. 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?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    If you have not signed a lease, then you would most likely be considered to be on a month to month. To terminate this lease without incurring additional liability for unpaid rent, you would need to give your landlord 30 days notice of your intent to leave immediately. That would allow you to use the last month's rent you paid, as part of of your security deposit, for the last 30 days you are there. If you stay beyond the 30 days, your landlord would apply the balance of your security to rent. However, you would still be liable for any damages to the property, and he could still sue you for that.

    Keep in mind that if you do stay long enough to start using up the balance of your security deposit, your landlord could start an action against you for non-payment of rent for that period of time. He may not, if he believes that you are going to move out when you say you are, but if he is prudent, he will start an action against you as soon as your rent for that period of time is late. He is not obligated to allow you to use that portion of your security deposit for rent.

    I hope this answers your question, but if not, please feel free to post another, or to contact my office directly.

    Best of luck to you,

    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).


  2. If you have not signed a lease indicating that you cannot apply the deposit towards the last month's rent, you should be able to do so. Similarly, if you never discussed late fees, the landlord cannot arbitrarily apply them.

    Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.


  3. This appears to be a follow-up to your last question. Because your contract is not in writing, it is not entirely clear what you have. I would try to comply with the statutes as much as you can. Give proper notice of vacating the property and provide notice of your forwarding address. The landlord will need to give you notice of damages, if any, within 30 days of your vacating the property.

    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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