Can a landlord hold onto my pet deposit for longer than 14 days if not specifically stipulated in the lease?

UPDATED: May 28, 2012

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Can a landlord hold onto my pet deposit for longer than 14 days if not specifically stipulated in the lease?

I am moving out soon and my landlord sent me a letter stating, “Per your lease, pet deposits will be returned no sooner than 90 days after your tenancy has been terminated”. There is no mention of this in the lease that I signed. Can a landlord hold onto a pet deposit for 90+ days?

Asked on May 28, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A refundable pet deposit should be returned at the same time as the rest of your security deposit. In your state, that should be within 14 days. As a practical matter, if the amount of  the deposit is not large, if the landlord does pay it after, say, 90 or 100 days, it may be best to not take action--the cost and inconvenience of a lawsuit (which is how you'd have to get it back earlier) may outweigh what you otherwise would lose from the delay. Obviously, if the deposit is large or the landlord wrongfully refuses to return it, that's another story and legal action would seem to be warranted.

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