How long does landlord have to return deposit?

Published On: Dec 05 2012 05:40:11 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 05 2012 05:48:58 PM CST
HOUSTON -

Nearly half of Houstonians are renters, so consumer expert Amy Davis gets a lot of calls and emails asking about renters' rights.

"My landlord has not returned my deposit. How long do I have to file my case in court?" Michael Kassin asked.

According to the Houston Apartment Association, a landlord has 30 days from the time a renter moves out to refund the deposit or present an itemized statement explaining why the deposit was not returned.

"Under Texas law, if the owner does not return the deposit or explain why he withheld a portion of it within 30 days, the owner is actually presumed to have acted in bad faith and it becomes the owner's burden of proof to show why he doesn't owe the security deposit to the resident," said Andy Teas with the HAA.

If a landlord doesn't return a deposit without an explanation, a renter can file a case with their local justice of the peace to get it back. Renters have up to four years to file a lawsuit.