Today we’re focusing on security deposits. We often get questions about what a security deposit can and cannot be used for, so we’re here to clear up any confusion. The good news is that the Texas Association of Realtors® lease we use spells this out on page 4, paragraph 10, and even references the relevant section from the Texas Property Code, §92.108 (Chapter 92 is dedicated to residential tenancies.)
Tenants may not use their security deposit as last month’s rent. In fact, a tenant could be liable for up to three times the rent for any rent that is wrongfully withheld.
When a tenant moves out, they want their security deposit back as soon as possible, and we don’t blame them! However, by law, landlords have 30 days from the date the tenant has surrendered the property and provided a forwarding address to account for the deposit. (If the tenant has moved out but no forwarding address has been provided, the 30-day clock begins once we get the forwarding address.)
Landlords who withhold security deposits beyond the legal limit can get in hot water themselves—which could include a fine, three times the rent amount and attorney fees.
If you want to know even more, you can head on over to §92.108 of the Texas Property Code. It’s really quite scintillating. (Not).