How to Forfeit Your Rental Deposit

by Wanda Thibodeaux ; Updated July 27, 2017
Most leases have provisions that discuss automatic deposit forfeiture.

When you rent an apartment or similar property, you typically have to provide your landlord or property manager with a security deposit. Most of the time, forfeiture of the security deposit is addressed in your rental agreement, which spells out the exact conditions under which you automatically forfeit the deposit. However, you also can tell the landlord you want to forfeit the deposit. This is a courtesy to your landlord, as it indicates you know you won't get the deposit back when you move out.

Step 1

Talk to your landlord or property manager and review your lease to determine how you can use your security deposit. In most leases, the security deposit is completely separate from your rent, and the landlord or property manager keeps the deposit to cover the cost of damage that may happen during your stay. However, in some jurisdictions such as New Jersey, it is permissible for you to ask the landlord to put your security deposit toward your rent under certain circumstances.

Step 2

Write a formal letter to your landlord saying you want to forfeit the security deposit. The letter should indicate the deposit amount, when the deposit was given to the landlord, why you want to forfeit the deposit and other basic information such as your rental property address. Ask the landlord to provide you with written notice that he approves or denies your request.

Step 3

Send the letter to your landlord or property manager via certified mail. This way, you have proof she received the request for forfeiture.


  • Sending a forfeiture letter removes your right to the deposit, as the landlord has a written statement from you saying she can keep your money. Don't send a forfeiture letter until you are sure the landlord is entitled to the funds and that forfeiture makes financial sense for you.

About the Author

Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website,, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images
bibliography-icon icon for annotation tool Cite this Article