Getting Your Security Deposit Back After You Leave
This is an excerpt from the 2016 Landlord-Tenant Law in Oregon booklet (http://oregonlawhelp.org/resource/landlord-tenant-law-in-oregon?ref=qy6EM). It is for general educational use only. It is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you have a specific legal question, you should contact an attorney. The information included here is accurate as of March 2016. Please remember that the law is always changing through the actions of the courts, the legislature, and agencies.
Time Limit Warning: Under state and federal laws there are time limits for taking action to enforce your rights. Most lawsuits related to the rental agreement and the Oregon Residential Landlord and Tenant Act must be filed (started in court) within one year of the incident. There may be other — shorter — time limits that apply in other cases. Ask a lawyer about the time limits that could apply in your situation.
Questions & Answers
Within 31 days after you move out and return your keys, the landlord must either return your deposit or tell you in writing why all or some of it is not being refunded. If the landlord does not return the right amount of money or does not give you a written explanation, you may sue, asking for twice the amount wrongfully withheld. ORS 90.300(16). If the landlord kept all of your deposit and claims that you owe additional money, you should be ready to defend yourself against a possible counterclaim by the landlord for property damages. See the resource ‘Can Small Claims Court Help Tenants?’ for more information about small claims court and the Time Limit Warning at the bottom of this resource.
If the landlord refunds only part of the deposit, you can cash the check and still sue the landlord if you think you are owed more money. If the landlord has written “full settlement” or “accord and satisfaction” on the back of the check, you should see a lawyer before you cash the check.
See the resource ‘When the Tenant Moves Out' for more information on what to do to improve your chances of getting your deposit back when you move out. Also see Sample Letter 7 in the resource ‘Sample Letters to the Landlord’.
If a landlord sells a building that is being rented out both tenants and new landlords must follow the terms of the original rental agreement. The new landlord must return any deposits when the tenants move, even if the new landlord did not get the deposit money from the old landlord. The new landlord must also make repairs and follow the rules set out in the legal resource booklet: 'Landlord-Tenant Law in Oregon' on this site.