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Can I tell my landlord to use my security deposit to pay my last month's rent before I move out?

Madison, NJ |

I'm moving out of my apartment the first week in June and I have a feeling my landlord is not going to want to give my security deposit back. The apartment is in the same condition it was when I moved in, we didn't cause any serious damages that he would need the security deposit to pay for. He's a pretty greedy individual however, and I have a feeling he's going to blame me for things that were wrong when I moved in. We're breaking our lease a month early which is fine with him. We've had to deal with leaks, constant disrepair, and bed bugs the entire 11 months that we've lived here. Also, the lease does state "tenant must give landlord 60 days notice to move out or security deposit is forfeit" and we gave them 42 days notice so is that going to be a problem?

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Attorney answers 3


In theory you cannot use your security for rent during the tenancy. That having been said, if you owe rent at the time you leave, the security can be applied to it. Given the notice provision, you may be on the hook, but I can not say if you LL will chase after you


It would be hard to answer your question without reading the lease. Each lease is very different and there really is no such thing as a "standard lease."

Also, a lease is a written contract. There are many ramifications because of that. (such as a subsequent oral agreement may not be enforceable).

You may want to immediately contact an attorney before there is a problem rather than later.
Some offer free 30 minute consultations.

no attorney client relationship has been formed.


Unfortunately it is not uncommon for tenants to use their security deposit for the last month or two of rent, but legally, the security deposit is security to make repairs if you cause damage to the premises. If a landlord takes the security deposit, you have a claim against the landlord, plus treble damages if not returned to within the statutory period less any costs of repairs.

To protect itself, the landlord would need your consent to not return the security deposit and/or a court order stating that the landlord is entitled to a judgment against you, which may be satisfied by keeping, rather than returning, your security deposit.

The forfeiture language is probably not enforceable unless the landlord can demonstrate the landlord made every effort to mitigate its damages and was unable to lease the apartment.

The foregoing is not intended to be legal advice upon which you may rely as I have not been retained for this purpose.

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