When you move into a new home, you will likely have to pay a security deposit at the time of moving in. But what happens to that deposit when you move out? Is it possible to get it back? The simple answer is yes, but there are rules you must follow to get that security deposit back from your landlord.
The process to get your security deposit back can be found in the Oklahoma Landlord Tenant Act (OLTA) §41-115(B). You must request your security deposit back in writing within six (6) months of moving out and delivering possession of the property back to the landlord – giving the landlord back the keys. NOTE: in Oklahoma, emails or texts do NOT count as a request in writing.
Instructions for Writing the Letter:
- Take photos of the entire home BEFORE you move out.
- Pay special attention to blinds, stove drip pans, sinks, toilets, bath/shower, and kitchen appliances inside and outside of the home. Save these photos in two places—consider saving them on your phone and email the photos to yourself.
- List your full name and the address of the home you are demanding the deposit back from.
- There are two ways to get the letter to your landlord: you can hand deliver or mail it. While sending it only one way works, you can send it both ways if you prefer.
- The post office can help you send certified mail. Make sure you get a return receipt (the green card) from the post office after the letter is delivered. This way, you have proof that your landlord received the letter and when.
- Put the landlord or property manager’s work address on the lines.
- Sign and date for the exact day you are delivering or mailing the letter.
- Include the address where you want the landlord to send the security deposit in the letter.
- If you do not want the landlord to have your new address, consider getting a P.O Box or giving the address of a trusted friend or family member.
- IMPORTANT: Keep a signed copy of the letter for yourself! Take a picture or make a copy!
- You can create a demand letter using the app on our website.
Things to be aware of:
- After receiving your demand letter, the landlord must return your deposit within 45 days (about 1 and a half months). If they do not return your full deposit, they must send you written notice telling you why they are keeping all or part of your deposit and exactly what the charges are.
- Your landlord can keep all or part of your security deposit to cover any unpaid rent or damage done to the property beyond normal wear and tear.
- NOTE: if you receive a list of charges and do not agree with them, contact an attorney through Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma (LASO). To contact LASO, fill out an online application, or call them at 1-888-534-5243.
- It is possible to receive a list of charges before you send a written request. If this happens and you do not agree with the charges, contact LASO.
- Your landlord is allowed to inspect the place after you move and make repairs.
- You are not responsible for issues that existed before you moved in that were noted in a move-in inspection or for normal wear and tear. If you did not do a move-in inspection, pictures should always be taken upon moving into any unit.
- If the apartments are going to be condemned, or gutted and renovated, tenants should not have deductions from their deposit for damages on moveout. You should promptly send a deposit demand when you move.
- NOTE: This does not apply to unpaid rent.
- If you do not make a written demand for the deposit within six (6) months after moving out and delivering possession back to the landlord, the landlord can keep the deposit.
- You can only request the return of your security deposit once you have moved out, you cannot request the deposit back while you are still occupying the unit.
- You must return any keys and garage door openers when you move out. This is a great time to also deliver the demand letter for your deposit back!
- Keep a photo or copy of the letter.
- Sign AND date the letter.
- Supply a mailing address you feel is safe to receive a response.
The Landlord Tenant Resource Center supports the overall agency mission of “making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring” in our community by stopping homelessness before it starts. We supply resources, referrals, and education to landlords and tenants in Tulsa County. If you are facing housing instability or threat of eviction, there may be resources that can help, please visit our Social Services HUB inside Iron Gate at 501 W. Archer every Monday to Thursday from 1-4:30pm to learn more about available resources and assistance.