Most residential leases and rental agreements in New Mexico require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of New Mexico landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does New Mexico law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
Yes. Under New Mexico landlord-tenant laws, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of one month's rent for the security deposit if the rental agreement is for less than one year, but there is no limit if the lease is for one year or more.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in New Mexico for returning a security deposit?
Under New Mexico law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has moved out.
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that New Mexico landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in New Mexico?
Yes. In addition to complying with New Mexico laws on security deposit limits and how (and when) the deposit must be returned to tenants, landlords in New Mexico must pay annual interest (equal to the passbook interest) on security deposits that are larger than one month's rent on a year's lease.
Where can I look up New Mexico law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up New Mexico law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at New Mexico Statutes Annotated § 47-8-18. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in New Mexico. For tips on looking up New Mexico state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
You may also find useful information in the tenant guide available at http://nmhealth.org/publication/view/guide/278/.