Renting Tip: Use of a Security Deposit

A lot of people in my age bracket tend to be renters of some sort; whether it's at an apartment complex or renting a room/house from a landlord, there's a lot that goes into the contract we sign to start our lease.

Something we almost always have to put down is a security deposit. However, a lot of us don't know everything the security deposit can be used for, or more importantly, what it can't be used for.

Please note, these are all for the state of Michigan; laws can vary by state.

In Michigan, there are only two legal uses for a security deposit:

  1. Reimbursement to the landlord for any damages that have occurred to the apartment during your residence; this, however, excludes normal wear and tear (e.g. walls may get dirty, use of appliances, etc).
  2. Reimbursement to the landlord for any past dues; this includes any missed rent or leftover utility bills.

One of the major sources of confusion is what the security deposit cannot be used for. Mainly, a security deposit cannot be used for cleaning fees. However, it is possible to have a separate, non-refundable cleaning fee in addition to your security deposit.

Be sure to read your contract carefully to make sure you're being treated fairly. If they say they'll hold your security deposit for cleaning fees, make sure you get that setup as either a separate fee (with a lower security deposit), or find somewhere else to rent.

If you would like additional information on security deposits, feel free to check out my sources: