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Security Deposits

Legal Disclaimer: The following is basic legal information, provided as a public service by Wyoming’s lawyers. The information provided is not a substitute for speaking to an attorney. Only an attorney can give you legal advice regarding your specific situation. Click here for help finding a lawyer.

Can my landlord keep my security deposit?

Your landlord must refund your security deposit, unless:

  • You owe unpaid rent,
  • You did not leave the rental unit as clean as it was when you moved in,
  • There was damage to the rental unit while you were renting, or
  • There are other costs listed in your lease agreement. You should review your agreement carefully for other costs and deductions.

What if there was very little damage to my rental unit?

If the damage was normal wear and tear (for example, faded paint), and you left the rental unit as clean as when you moved in, the landlord cannot subtract anything from your security deposit.

Note: It is a good idea to take photos or make a list of any damage you notice when you move in and out of the rental unit. Sign and date the list and photos. They may help you if you need to go to court.

If the damage was more than normal wear and tear, the landlord can deduct what it will cost to return the unit to how it was when you moved in.

Can the landlord keep all of my security deposit?

The landlord must only deduct the amount of money it will take to clean or repair the rental unit. The rest of the security deposit must be returned to you.

What if I paid the last month's rent when I moved in?

Any extrafee you paid (except for an application fee) is considered a security deposit and must be returned to you even if it is called something else, such as a:

  • Cleaning fee
  • Key fee
  • New tenant fee
  • Pet fee
  • Last month’s rent

What if I don't remember how much my security deposit was?

Look at your records. You will probably find it in:

  • Your original lease agreement,
  • The check you wrote when you signed the agreement, or
  • The receipt the landlord gave you when you signed the agreement.

What if the landlord says my deposit is non-refundable?

Check your records. In Wyoming, the landlord is required to give you written notice at the time the deposit is paid if any part is non-refundable.The landlord is not allowed to make that decision later.

Will it be hard to get my security deposit back?

Maybe. Many renters have trouble getting their security deposit back. When you are ready to move out, it is a good idea to write the landlord a letter. Click here for a sample letter. Keep a copy for your records.

Does the landlord have a deadline to return my security deposit back?

Yes. In Wyoming, the landlord must mail it to you within 30 days. However, if you wait more than 15 days to give your forwarding address to your landlord, your landlord has up to 15 more days to respond.

You should make sure your landlord has your forwarding address within 30 days. It is a good idea to send your letter “RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED.”

If there is damage to the apartment, the landlord has an additional 30 days to respond.

If you paid a separate utilities deposit, your landlord has 10 days to return it after your final utility bill has been paid. If your bill is still unpaid after 45 days, your landlord can deduct those charges before sending any refund.

What if I don't get my security deposit by the deadline?

Write your landlord a letter. Click for a sample letter here. If your landlord still does not give you the security deposit back, you may have to sue in Small Claims Court.

If your landlord returns only part of your deposit:

  • But you do not agree with the deductions, and
  • You might want to sue your landlord,
  • Do not cash the check! By cashing the check, you may imply that you have agreed to the landlord's deductions and have given up all of your rights to contest them in court.
  • If you absolutely have to cash the check, write “disputed” or “cashed under protest” on the check and you may be able to keep your rights in that way.

What if my landlord is not the same person as when I moved in?

The person who is the landlord when you move out must return the deposit. It doesn’t matter whether the new landlord got your security deposit from the original landlord. Be sure you give your forwarding address to the current landlord when you move.