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Return of the Security Deposit

A tenant must leave the rental unit reasonably clean and undamaged at the end of the tenancy, except for reasonable wear and tear. A tenant must return all keys to the landlord. A landlord can claim some or all of the security deposit for things like damages, unpaid rent or unreturned keys. A landlord can also claim for cleaning costs if the tenant did not leave the place reasonably clean.

A landlord has seven business days to return the security deposit to the tenant or claim some or all of it. The seven days start when the landlord knew or reasonably should have known that the tenant moved out. The landlord must use the proper form to give the tenant written notice of the claim. If the landlord fails to make the claim within seven business days after the end of the tenancy, the landlord loses their right to claim the security deposit and must return it to the tenant. However, the landlord and the tenant can just agree in writing that the landlord will keep some or all of the security deposit. Tenants who need to move out because the landlord is renovating or tearing down the building are entitled to get their security deposit back.

Landlords do not have to serve this notice on tenants if they do not have a forwarding address for the tenant. A forwarding address can be an email address, a fax number, a cell phone number or a social media account where a written message can be left.

The landlord makes a claim by serving notice on the tenant. The notice must state why the landlord is making a claim to the security deposit. The notice can be served on the tenant in-person, by mail or by electronic means.

If the tenant disputes the claim, they fill in the dispute portion of the notice on the claim and send it to the ORT.

The ORT will set a date to hear the dispute. Upon receiving notice of the hearing, the landlord must pay the security deposit to ORT within 10 business days of receiving the notice. They can also file an updated list of damages at this time.

The hearing officer hears the evidence from both sides and decides what should happen with the security deposit. If the landlord did not pay the security deposit to the ORT as required, the ORT can order the landlord to return the security deposit to the tenant without hearing from the landlord. They can also require that rent from other tenants of the landlord be paid to the ORT and used to pay the security deposit to the tenant.

If the landlord has not returned the deposit or made a claim within seven business days, the tenant can make their own application for return of their security deposit. Tenants have up to two years after the tenancy ends to dispute the landlord's claim or make their own application for return of their security deposit.

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