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The landlord has not returned my deposit and I’ve been moved out for over a month. How do I get it back?

The following is an actual conversation between an Uprise RI user and our Helping Hand chat assistant. The most helpful conversations, as determined by our editors, will be showcased on our homepage, with personally identifying details removed when applicable.

Posted April 18, 2024

User: The landlord has not returned my deposit and I’ve been moved out for over a month. How do I get it back?

The Helping Hand: Oh no, that’s definitely frustrating! Did you give your landlord a forwarding address and request the return of the deposit in writing when you moved out? Also, have you received any communication from your landlord regarding the deposit?

User: no

The Helping Hand: Alright, it’s important to start by formally requesting the return of your deposit in writing. You can send a certified letter to your landlord with a request for the deposit return, including your forwarding address. This way, you have a record of your request. Would you like guidance on what to include in that letter or information on additional steps you can take if the landlord still doesn’t respond?

User: yes

The Helping Hand: Great, here’s what you should include in your letter:

1. Start with your name, the address of the rental property, and the dates you moved in and out.
2. Clearly state that you are requesting the return of your security deposit.
3. Mention the amount of the deposit and any relevant details about the condition of the property when you left.
4. Include your forwarding address where the landlord can send the check.
5. Request a written itemization of any deductions from your deposit, if any were made.
6. Remind the landlord of the Rhode Island law, which states that a landlord must return a security deposit within 20 days after the tenant has vacated the premises.
7. Inform them that failure to comply with this law can result in you taking legal action to recover the deposit.
8. Close by stating you expect a prompt response within a specific timeframe (e.g., 10 business days).

After sending the letter, if the landlord does not respond or return the deposit, you may need to consider small claims court. Would you like information on how to proceed with small claims court in Rhode Island, or is there anything else you need assistance with?

User: yes

The Helping Hand: To file a claim in small claims court in Rhode Island for the return of your security deposit, follow these steps:

1. Determine the Court: Small claims cases in Rhode Island are handled by the District Court. You’ll need to file in the district where the rental property is located.
2. Fill Out the Forms: Visit the Rhode Island Judiciary’s website or the courthouse to obtain and fill out the “Statement of Claim” form for small claims court. You’ll need to provide information about yourself, your landlord, and the nature of your claim.
3. File the Claim: Submit the completed forms to the court clerk along with the filing fee. The fee varies but is generally a small amount. If you cannot afford it, you can request a waiver.
4. Serve the Landlord: After filing, the court will provide you with information on how to serve the landlord with the notice of your claim. This is usually done by certified mail or by a sheriff’s deputy.
5. Prepare Your Case: Gather all evidence related to your tenancy and deposit, including the lease agreement, photographs, correspondence with the landlord, and witnesses if applicable.
6. Attend the Hearing: Show up on your court date with all your evidence and present your case. Be concise and stick to the facts.
7. Judgment: If the judge rules in your favor, the landlord will be ordered to return the deposit plus any applicable penalties. Make sure to check the Rhode Island Judiciary’s website for the most current information and forms.

The Helping Hand is a free service provided by Uprise RI for Rhode Islanders. It uses state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology and vast training on RI landlord/tenant law and consumer protection to provide helpful tips and resources specific to the user's needs, at no charge. Help support The Helping Hand with a donation of any kind.