Renters who have kept their rental in clean and repaired condition and paid rent in full and on time are entitled to get their security deposit back in full. In most states, the law sets firm deadlines by which landlords must return security deposits. Many state security deposit statutes also require landlords to account for any deductions they make from the deposit.
If your landlord fails to send you a written itemization of your deposit as required by your state security deposit law, or you feel the landlord's deductions were unfair, you could try to negotiate or mediate the dispute. Maybe your landlord will let you do some additional cleaning, rather than charge you for cleaning costs. If you are unsuccessful working something out with your landlord, however, it's time to formally demand the return of your security deposit.
When you make a written demand for your landlord to return your security deposit, be sure to include:
In some states, you must make a written demand for the return of your security deposit before you can sue your landlord in small claims court. Even if your state doesn't require you to write a demand letter before suing, it's a good idea to send one. Not only will sending the letter increase the chance that the landlord will return your deposit without having to go to court, but it also helps you organize your case and learn the law in the event you do need to go to court.
Send your demand letter by certified mail (return receipt requested), or via another service that will give you a receipt establishing the date of delivery. Sending an actual letter rather than an email allows you to obtain proof that the correspondence was received (and the landlord will probably take a physical letter a lot more seriously than an email). If you want, you could always follow up with an email containing a pdf version of the letter you sent. Keep a copy of your demand letter and the delivery receipt. You'll need them if you end up in court.