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What do I do if my landlord won’t return my security deposit?

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 May 15, 2024

User: What do I do if my landlord won’t return my security deposit

The Helping Hand: I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with your landlord. To better assist you, could you please tell me if you’ve already sent a formal request for the return of your security deposit, and if so, how long ago was it sent? Additionally, have you documented the condition of the property when you moved out?

User: I have not sent a formal request and yes I have pictures

The Helping Hand: Great, having pictures is a smart move to document the condition of the property. It’s important to send a formal request for the return of your security deposit to your landlord. Would you like guidance on how to write that request or information on the legal time frame your landlord has to return the deposit in Rhode Island?

User: yes please

The Helping Hand: In Rhode Island, your landlord has 20 days after the termination of the tenancy to return your security deposit. Here’s how to proceed:

1. Write a Formal Request: Draft a letter to your landlord requesting the return of your security deposit. Include your forwarding address and the date by which you expect the deposit to be returned, based on the 20-day legal requirement.
2. Attach Evidence: Attach copies (not originals) of the photographs you took of the property’s condition when you moved out, as proof that you left the property in good condition.
3. Send the Request: Send your letter via certified mail with a return receipt requested. This will provide you with proof that the landlord received your request. If your landlord fails to return the deposit or provide a written statement of why they are keeping it within 20 days, you may have grounds to take legal action for the return of your deposit, often for twice the amount withheld unlawfully.

Would you need assistance with drafting the letter or do you have any other questions regarding this process?

User: help with drafting

The Helping Hand: Certainly! Here’s a template for your formal request for the return of your security deposit:


[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State, Zip Code] [Date] [Landlord’s Name]
[Landlord’s Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]

Subject: Request for Return of Security Deposit

Dear [Landlord’s Name],

I am writing to formally request the return of my security deposit for the property located at [Your Rental Property Address], which I vacated on [Date of Move-Out]. As per Rhode Island law, I understand that you have 20 days from the termination of tenancy to return the security deposit.

I have fulfilled all the terms of the rental agreement, left the property in good condition, and provided a forwarding address for the return of the security deposit. Attached, please find photographs documenting the condition of the property at the time of my departure.

I kindly request that my security deposit of [amount] be returned in full to the following address:

[Your Forwarding Address]

If there are any deductions to be made, please provide an itemized statement of such deductions.

I expect the return of my security deposit by [20 days from Move-Out Date]. If you have any questions or need further information, please contact me at [Your Phone Number] or [Your Email Address].

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

Remember to adjust the template with your personal details and the specifics of your situation. Once you’ve drafted the letter, send it via certified mail with a return receipt requested. Keep a copy of the letter, the photographs, and any postal receipts for your records.

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.