In Summary

Ideally, the landlord should refund security deposit at the end of the tenancy. However, some may not because of different circumstances.

Security deposit is money worth a month’s rent paid to cater for damages, unpaid utility bills, rent arrears and other issues concerning the house management. It is refunded at the time of vacating a house. Juliat Muwesi, a tenant, says as a norm, some landlords ask for security deposit but some tenants are reluctant to pay it because they are afraid of not getting a refund at the time of vacating the house.
Asuman Lwanyaga, a property manager and legal officer, says they find it hard to resolve matters of security deposit because some landlords deliberately refuse to refund the full amount. However, there can be valid reasons why a landlord may deny a full refund.

Damages caused
Lwanyaga says if you are leaving, and the landlord realises you damaged the house, then expect less security deposit because the landlord will say he has to do repairs.
“The landlord requires to use the security deposit to repair the damages. Some tenants can be very irresponsible in how they handle the property. They break locks, switches, sockets, taps, defacing walls among others”

Lack of rental agreement
Lwanyaga says failure to have tenancy agreements may give the landlord an opportunity to refuse full refund your security deposit knowing that a tenant does not have a legal basis upon to demand the money.
“Since it’s a must for landlords to ask for security deposit, make sure it is indicated in the agreement and well detailed, because that’s the loophole landlords use to take people’s money because you cannot complain without documents,” he says.

Lwanyaga adds that to be on a safe side, do not pay security deposit on a house which is not fully finished, if you change your mind, there is no way how you can claim for your money because the landlord will say he or she used that money to finish the house as you asked.
“You have to file the condition of your unit immediately on the first visit because if you realise there is a problem when you have already signed the agreement, it means the landlord will not to refund your money,” he adds.

Failure to negotiate with your landlord
“Failure to negotiate with your landlords is one of the reasons why they do not refund people’s security deposit fully, if you get into their house and then you change your mind about it afterwards, it becomes very difficult to leave their houses because some landlords find it hard to get tenants,” he says.
Lwanyaga adds that if you can negotiate with your landlord from the beginning, make sure you agree on terms so that you pay little security deposit to avoid making losses because you will have little to lose, especially when you have to move out in a short period of time.

Unlawful shoddy repairs
Ismail Mulindwa, a real estate dealer, says landlords fail to refund security deposit accusing the tenants of doing shoddy repairs, which were not their responsibility. “Some tenants do the repair without asking the landlord so they may be denied their security deposit refund on that basis,” he says.

Utility consumption
Mulindwa says some tenants tend to consume extravagantly thus accumulating utility bills without making payments. When such a tenants to leave, their security deposit will be used to clear the unpaid utility bills.

Why landlords ask for security deposit
Acts as commitment fee: Security deposit acts as commitment fee by the tenant as it signifies readiness to occupy the house.
Keep tenants for long: Some landlords ask for commitment fee because they want their tenants to stay for long as some times it is subject to duration of tenancy.