Idaho defines a security deposit as “any money deposited with a landlord that isn’t rent.” Most landlords require tenants to pay a security deposit prior to moving into their rental premises. The deposit acts as a financial cushion against potential things such as:
- Failure by a tenant to clear their utility bills prior to moving out
- Failure by a tenant to repair damages exceeding normal wear and tear before moving out
- Nonpayment of rent by a tenant
- Other violations to the lease that may cause financial damage to the landlord
ID Code § 6-321 regulates the collection and return of security deposits in the state of Idaho. This law highlights the rules that landlords requiring security deposits from their tenants must follow to protect all parties in a lease. The following is a basic overview of those rules under the landlord-tenant law.
Are There Security Deposit Limits in Idaho?
Idaho doesn’t require landlords to abide by any limit when it comes to collecting security deposits from tenants. This means that you are free to charge whatever amount of security deposit you wish.
That said, it’s in your best interest as a landlord to charge a reasonable amount. That is, anywhere between one and two months’ rent.
Can Idaho Landlords Charge Nonrefundable Security Deposits?
As a landlord in Idaho, it’d be unlawful for you to charge a tenant a nonrefundable security deposit. The state assumes that any money a tenant deposits with their landlord is either a deposit or rent. And that all deposits are refundable at the end of the lease term.
Can Landlords Charge an Additional Pet Deposit?
Idaho’s law permits landlords who allow pets to charge an additional pet deposit. The deposit helps cushion landlords against financial damages that they may incur as a result of pet damage.
Examples of pet damage include urine stains on the wall, scratches on the floor, or flea infestations in the carpet.
You should be cautious, however, not to charge the deposit on tenants with service animals. That’s because service animals are working animals, not pets. It’s no wonder disability is one of the protected classes under the Federal Fair Housing Act.
That said, a tenant with a service animal isn’t immune to penalties resulting from damages their animal may cause.
What are the Allowable Deductions on Security Deposits?
Under Idaho laws, landlords are permitted to make certain deductions on their tenants’ security deposits. You can use part or all of the deposit to cover:
- Any unpaid rent that a tenant still owes you after moving out
- The cost of damage exceeding normal wear and tear. Such damages include pet-stained carpets, large holes in walls, and a torn blind. You cannot, however, charge a tenant for damages such as small scuffs on floors, chipped paint, or worn carpet.These types of damages are known as normal wear and tear and they are the landlord’s responsibility to fix.
- Property abandonment by the tenant. If a tenant does this, you can retain the entire security deposit to help you towards re-leasing the property.
Can a Landlord Use a Security Deposit as Last Month’s Rent?
A tenant may only use their deposit as last month’s rent if there is a clause in the lease agreement permitting it.
How Must Landlords in Idaho Store Their Tenants’ Security Deposits?
Some states require landlords to store their tenants’ deposits in a particular manner. For instance, in an escrow account, in an interest bearing account, or to post it as a surety bond.
This is not the case in Idaho. You can store your tenants’ deposits in any manner you like.
Do You Have to Provide Your Tenant with a Receipt of Their Security Deposit?
You aren’t required to provide your tenant with a receipt of their security deposit. That being said, it’s always a good idea to do so. When notifying your tenant about a receipt of their security deposit, you may also want to provide them important details such as:
- Amount of security deposit you have received
- The manner in which you’re storing it
- What the tenant must do in order to get a full refund of their deposit
What Happens if Property Ownership Changes During a Tenancy?
In the event of change in property ownership, it’ll be the incoming landlord’s responsibility to return the deposit back to the tenant at the end of the tenancy.
When Must Landlords Return Their Tenant’s Security Deposit?
Landlords in Idaho have 21 days to return their tenants’ security deposits once they move out. You may also push the time limit to 30 days through the lease agreement. But, the maximum period for returning a tenant’s security deposit must not exceed 30 days after a tenant moves out.
If you’ve made any deductions to the tenant’s deposit, then you must create a detailed list of itemized damages. You must then send the list alongside the portion of the deposit you’re returning to the tenant’s forwarding address.
If a landlord fails to return it on time, it’ll be upon the tenant to write a demand letter to them. They must do this in writing and send the letter via certified mail within 3 days of the limit being reached.
If the landlord disagrees with the tenant’s demand, the issue may end up in a small claims court. If you’re found guilty of wrongfully withholding their deposit, you could be liable to paying the tenant up to 3X the entire deposit, plus attorney fees and court costs.
This may change however should you evict your tenant.
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Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. Also, laws change and this content may not be updated at the time of your reading. For expert help in Idaho landlord-tenant laws or any aspect of landlording, KeyRenter Boise can help.