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Can My Landlord Take My Security Deposit?

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In Kentucky, landlord-tenant law is either governed by common law (That is law that is created through years and years of judicial decisions, trial orders, appeals, and other court rulings) or by the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, or URLTA. Kentucky, despite many pushes to adopt a uniform law across the state, has opted to allow communities, cities, and towns to choose to adopt, or not to adopt, the URLTA. Meaning that each city may have a different law governing this practice. To see if your municipality has adopted URLTA, please contact us and we can assist you.

Under URLTA, a landlord must fulfill certain requirements before keeping your security deposit. KRS 383.580 states that “All landlords of residential property requiring a security deposit prior to occupancy shall be required to deposit all tenants’ security deposits in an account used only for that purpose…” The statute further requires the landlord to provide you the location and account number of the bank with that account. Many times, this information will be in your lease or its accompanying addendums. Therefore, if your landlord never provided you this information, you are most likely entitled to recover that deposit.

Further your landlord must provide you with a comprehensive list of any then-existing damages. This form will most likely be completed before, or contemporaneous with, you signing your lease agreement. The landlord must also serve you with a comprehensive list of any damage to the unit which is the basis for taking, or reducing, your security deposit.

So, in brief a landlord must:

  • Deposit your security deposit in an independent account used only for that purpose
  • Inform the tenants of the location of the separate account and the account number
  • At move-in, present the tenant of a comprehensive list of then-existing damage
  • Allow you the right to inspect the premises to ascertain the accuracy of the then-existing damage disclosure before move-in
  • At termination, compile a comprehensive listing of any damage to the unit and the estimated cost of repairing such damage
  • Allow you the right to inspect the premises to ascertain the accuracy of the accuracy of the damage(s)

Meaning, if your landlord did not complete all of the above formalities, then you are most likely entitled by statute to recover your security deposit. You may be entitled to this security deposit even if there is a dispute with the last month’s rent but beware that the landlord may confiscate the deposit after thirty (30) days if you do not demand the deposit back.

Finally, make sure that your landlord has any new address that you occupy after you move out, as they may be able to confiscate your security deposit if they cannot contact you within sixty (60) days.

Most commonly, the first step in getting a security deposit returned is the drafting and service of a demand letter to the landlord. These demand letters are most effective with an attorney’s letterhead and signature, so, if you are interested in retaining our services for that letter, please schedule a consultation with us to discuss.

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