The beginning of any tenancy is the busiest time for a landlord. Lease documents are signed, first month’s rent is collected (and sometimes last month’s rent), a security deposit is received, keys are provided to the tenant, and a move-in inspection is often conducted. It’s no wonder that the particulars regarding the security deposit can be inadvertently overlooked or not followed precisely. In many states there are enough particulars about dealing with the security deposit that the landlord is best advised to understand the statutes pertaining to security deposits in their state.

Amount and allowable charges

Utah does not dictate the amount of the security deposit, nor is there a requirement that the deposit be held in an escrow account. The security deposit can be used for damages beyond normal wear and tear, along with unpaid rent or other fees due to the landlord.

Returning the deposit

If the beginning of the tenancy is the busiest time for a landlord, the landlord’s time at the end of a tenancy is dominated by tasks related to the return of the security deposit. But the process of returning the deposit is straightforward if the landlord follows the law, paying attention to required timeframes and required notices. The first step is for the landlord to obtain the tenant’s forwarding address. Once the tenant has vacated and given up possession of the premises, the landlord has 30 days to deliver the following to the tenant:

  • The balance of any deposit.
  • The balance of any prepaid rent.
  • If deductions were made from the deposit or prepaid rent, a written notice that itemizes and explains the reason for each deduction.

Landlord’s failure to comply

The tenant has some recourse if the landlord does not comply with the requirements for returning the security deposit. Per U.C.A. 1953 § 57-17-5, the tenant may do the following:

  1. Recover from Landlord:
    • The full deposit if landlord failed to timely return the balance of tenant’s deposit.
    • The full amount of prepaid rent, if the landlord failed to timely return the balance of tenant’s prepaid rent.
    • A civil penalty of $100.
  2. File an action in district court to enforce compliance by landlord.