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, try first to work out some kind of agreement with your landlord. 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, put your concerns in writing, in the form of a demand letter.
Use this Sample Demand Letter for Return of Security Deposit as a template to prepare your own demand letter. Clearly state your concerns and what you want, such as the return of your full deposit within five business days. Your demand letter should cite your state security deposit law (find yours at Nolo’s Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines in your State chart) and say that you will sue your landlord in small claims court if necessary. In some states, you must make a written demand for the return of your security deposit before you can sue in small claims court, but it’s a good idea to send a demand letter regardless of whether or not your state requires it.
Send your demand letter by certified mail (return receipt requested), or with another service that will give you a receipt establishing the date of delivery. Keep a copy of your demand letter and the delivery receipt. You’ll need them if you end up in court.