Indiana’s Security Deposit Law

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Question from one of Matt’s readers-

“Dear Mr. Griffith,

I rented an apartment in West Lafayette IN for six months and the lease ended on DEC 31, 2008. I had vacated the apartment on DEC 22, 2008 and left the keys and forwarding address with the landlord. Does the 45 days count from the date my lease ends or the date I left the forwarding address? I will appreciate your response.

Thanks,

S.A.”

Matt’s Answer-

Your question concerns Indiana’s security deposit statute, also known as the 45-Day Letter Rule.  Most states have a similar rule.  The 45-Day Letter Rule governs how a landlord of a residential property must handle the tenant’s security deposit after the lease is terminated.

In Indiana, the 45-day triggering event is the date the landlord regains possession. For you, that would be the date you returned the keys.

The statute requires the landlord to provide you (via US mail is acceptable) with an itemized list of any damages, which can include unpaid rent, and the balance of your security deposit, if any.

I represent far, far more landlords and property managers than tenants.  So, I can say with great confidence that the 45-Day Letter Rule is not well understood or even known by most landlords.  In fact, when I speak at the “Ask Matt” portion of the monthly meetings for CIREIA, I often ask how many attendees (real estate investors) do not know about the 45-Day Letter, and there are no fewer than 10 hands raised each time.

For more information on this law, visit the "Ask Matt" page at CIREIA’s website-  http://www.cireia.org/clubportal/ClubStatic.cfm?clubID=1507&pubmenuoptID=21366

Another question from one of Matt’s readers

"I was at the CIREIA meeting tues. and had a few questions about the 45 day rule.

1. Does it apply to section 8 also?

2.Does this also apply to section 8 unpaid utilities and any damages after they move out?

Thanks for your time,

B.H."

 

Matt’s Answer-

The 45-Day Letter Rule applies whenever any landlord takes any "security deposit" from any residential tenant in Indiana.

A "security deposit" is anything beyond the first month’s rent.  So, if you take the first and last months’ rent, you have a security deposit in the form of the last month’s rent.

What’s CIREIA?   

cireia_logo_rgb1

It is the Central Indiana Real Estate Investors Association.  I’ve been its Legal Affairs Chairman for more than 15 years.  For more information on CIREIA, go to its website- CIREIA’s Website.  If you are serious about owning investment real estate in Indiana, you should be a member of CIREIA.  Joining CIREIA for $150/year-  that’s a “no-brainer.”

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Indiana’s Security Deposit Law

  1. hi,
    my family came from aboard and rent a room for 15 days only. according to the rental agreement they need to give 30 days written notice to vacate prior to moving out.
    Is this a reasonable/legal request?!

    thanks for your time,
    Orit

  2. Pingback: Residential Landlord-Tenant Rules | Ask Matt Online

  3. Bob- I understand your frustration. Your situation is extremely fact sensitive. You might be right, but, if you’re wrong, it will cost you more in fees to sue them. You’ll receive a counter-lawsuit as soon as you file, and you might have to pay the landlord’s attorney’s fees. It’s a close call. I’d have to really study your facts and documents to advise you specifically. Without having the facts, I can only suggest that you be cautious.

  4. Unpaid rent can be satisfied with a security deposit, if the lease permits it.

    No, you don’t need to segregate the deposit funds from your operating funds.

  5. Hi Liz.

    I cannot give you legal advice online, and you’re not yet my client. Additionally, I might represent the property manager.

    If you’d like to discuss your situation privately, please send me an email at Matt@IndyBizlaw.com.

    Thanks.

    -Matt

  6. Nicholas-

    The landlord can request whatever security the landlord deems reasonable. Yes, the insurance you described is available. You’ll need to find a good insurance agent.

    -Matt

  7. Hi Matt,

    I lived at this apartment at a school campus and I moved to California after graduation. My lease is a one year contract starting in Aug. I stayed for one semester so I left in Dec. after getting a sublease.
    Now that the year is over, I was expecting my deposit check. I called them to tell them my new address so they could send the check to the right place. Three weeks have gone by and I have gotten nothing. No 45-day letter.

    I did call them and they told me that instead of putting LA as the city, they accidentally put the city they were situated in on the address. But they said because of the zip code that the post office would know that it was Los Angeles.

    I called them recently and they claim that they have sent the check but theres really no way of me being 100% sure of that. They then offered to send the check to me again BUT that I would have to pay a $36 check cancellation fee and it would come out of my deposit.

    I think this is a little ridiculous. They already have a bad reputation when it comes to security deposits. I have a very clean roommate and she told me that she spent an entire weekend cleaning the apartment before the lease was up. Of course, we were charged a substantial amount for cleaning fees.

    I called to ask how much was left on my deposit and they refused to tell me over the phone.
    Can you tell me how I can go about dealing with this?

    • Hi Jess. I am sorry but cannot legal advice on this blog site. You would have to contact me at my law office for personal help. Best wishes to you in any event.

      -Matt

  8. Hi Mary-

    I cannot give legal advice on this blog site. However, I’ll share with you my general thoughts on the topics you raised.

    I think it is always a mistake to use a verbal/oral lease. It is more difficult to prove the terms of an oral lease. Generally speaking, the security deposit is not the last month’s rent. The last month’s rent should be paid timely. The landlord then must follow the 45-Day Letter Rules. Read this blog article for more info. on the topic. http://www.askmattonline.com/real-estate/45-day-letter-rule-indianas-security-deposit-law/

    -Matt

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