Mississippi Security Deposit Laws in 2024

Security deposits are a standard requirement for most rental housing across the United States. They serve as a form of insurance for landlords in case tenants cause damage or fail to pay rent. However, disputes often arise when tenants move out over deductions taken from deposits by landlords. This comprehensive guide examines Mississippi's statutes and regulations governing security deposits in residential rental housing. It provides an overview of the rights, responsibilities, and protections for both tenants and landlords when handling security deposits in the state. The purpose is to help renters and property managers avoid deposit disputes by ensuring full compliance with state laws. The guide covers key topics such as deposit limits, holding and returning procedures, allowable deductions, documentation requirements, and penalties for noncompliance. With a better understanding of Mississippi security deposit laws, both parties can help facilitate a smooth rental experience from beginning to end.

Definition of Security Deposit

A security deposit is an upfront payment made by a renter to a landlord at the start of a lease term. It serves as a form of security for the landlord to cover any potential damages or unpaid rent. The deposit also gives the landlord some financial protection if the tenant violates the lease. 

The security deposit does not count as the rent payment and cannot be applied toward rent owed. It is a separate, refundable payment. The landlord holds the deposit in a trust for the full lease term. 

When the tenancy ends, the landlord can deduct from the deposit if:

  • The tenant caused damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • The tenant failed to pay rent or other charges
  • There were lease violation charges 

The landlord must return any unused portion of the deposit to the tenant. Security deposits aim to give landlords recourse for financial losses from problem tenants without needing to pursue legal action. For tenants, paying the deposit ensures they get it back if they comply with the full terms of the lease.

Both parties should thoroughly inspect the unit and document its condition at move-in and move-out. This creates a record if any deposit deductions are required for damage claims. The lease agreement should outline the deposit amount, holding details, and conditions for returning or keeping the deposit. State laws regulate security deposits and protect tenants from abuse or unfair withholding.

Maximum Allowable Deposit

In Mississippi, landlords are allowed to collect a security deposit up to the amount of one month's rent or $500, whichever is greater. This limit applies regardless of whether the rental unit is furnished or unfurnished. 

There are some exceptions to the deposit limit rules:

  • If the tenant has a pet, the landlord can collect an additional deposit amount. This pet deposit is limited to 1/2 of one month's rent.  
  • For long-term leases of at least 6 months, the landlord may collect up to 2 months' rent as the security deposit. 
  • For properties that have 4 or more dwelling units on the same premises, the maximum deposit is 1.5 times the monthly rent.

So in summary, the standard security deposit limit in Mississippi is one month's rent or $500, but landlords can charge higher deposit amounts in certain situations like for pets, long leases, or larger multi-unit properties. The increased deposit cannot exceed set limits in the state statutes.

Holding and Returning the Deposit

In Mississippi, landlords must hold security deposits in a separate bank account used only for that purpose. They cannot comingle the deposits with their own funds. 

Landlords must return the full security deposit to the tenant within 45 days after the lease ends or the tenant moves out. This applies as long as the tenant provided proper notice and left the unit in the same condition as when they moved in, minus normal wear and tear.

If the landlord cannot perform an inspection within the 45 days, they must still return the full deposit on time. After inspection, they can then provide an itemized list of deductions and any remaining deposit amount owed.

Allowable Deductions

Landlords in Mississippi can legally deduct damages and certain costs from the tenant's security deposit at the end of the lease. Allowable deductions include:

Unpaid rent

Landlords can deduct any rent that is still owed by the tenant. This includes rent owed for the remainder of the lease term if the tenant breaks the lease early.

Damage repairs

Landlords can deduct the reasonable costs of repairing any damages to the unit beyond normal wear and tear. This includes damages such as:

  • Holes in walls
  • Stained/damaged carpeting 
  • Broken appliances
  • Missing fixtures
  • Damage to doors/windows

Cleaning costs

Landlords can deduct cleaning costs to return the unit to the same level of cleanliness as at move-in. They can charge for cleaning carpets, appliances, windows, etc.

Early termination fees

If the lease allows, landlords can charge fees for a tenant ending the lease early.

Late fees

Landlords can deduct late rent fees per the lease terms.

Re-rental fees

If a tenant breaks the lease, the landlord can charge for costs to re-advertise and re-rent the unit.


Landlords can deduct utility bills paid by the landlord that are the tenant's responsibility under the lease.

Landlords cannot deduct for normal wear and tear or pre-existing conditions. Nor can they deduct for damage that exceeds actual repair costs.

Itemized Statements

Mississippi law requires landlords to provide tenants with an itemized list of any deductions taken from the security deposit. This statement must be sent to the tenant's last known address along with the balance of the deposit within 45 days after the tenancy ends. 

The itemized list should clearly document each deduction, the reasoning behind it, and the cost. For example, the landlord would list deductions for carpet cleaning or repainting walls, including details on the extent of the damage and quotes or receipts showing the repair costs.

Landlords must take care to accurately account for all deductions and be able to justify them if disputed. The itemized statement protects both parties by creating a record of how the deposit was handled. Tenants should review the statement closely and follow up in writing within 30 days if they disagree with any of the deductions.

Without an itemized list, the landlord forfeits the right to withhold any portion of the deposit. Even if damages exceeded the deposit amount, failure to itemize deductions means the full deposit must be returned to the tenant.

Tenant Protections

Mississippi law contains provisions protecting tenants against retaliation from landlords related to security deposits. Landlords are prohibited by statute from taking certain actions against tenants who exercise their legal rights regarding security deposits:

  • Landlords cannot increase rent, decrease services, attempt to evict, or threaten to evict a tenant for requesting the return of their security deposit.
  • Landlords cannot publish tenant names for nonpayment of rent in retaliation for tenants exercising security deposit rights. 
  • Landlords cannot refuse to renew a lease solely because a tenant has filed an official complaint regarding the security deposit.
  • Tenants have the right to recover damages or receive injunctive relief if a landlord takes retaliatory action over security deposit disputes.
  • It is illegal for landlords to attempt to penalize or discourage tenants from exercising their rights to proper handling and return of security deposits as outlined in Mississippi law.

These provisions aim to prevent abusive or coercive behavior from landlords against tenants who assert their legal protections related to security deposits. Tenants should not fear retaliation for simply asking for compliance with statutory deposit rules.

Tips for Landlord Compliance   

Landlords should take steps to fully comply with Mississippi security deposit laws and avoid disputes. Here are some best practices:

  • Collect no more than the allowed maximum deposit amount. In Mississippi, this is a maximum of 1 month's rent for unfurnished units, and 1.5 month's rent for furnished units.
  • Keep the full deposit amount in a separate bank account and do not spend it during the tenancy. Do not mix it with your own funds.
  • Conduct a walkthrough inspection with the tenant at move-in and move-out. Document the unit's condition with photos/video and provide copies to the tenant.
  • Make any deductions from the deposit within 45 days of the tenant moving out. After 45 days you forfeit the right to make deductions.
  • Send the tenant an itemized list of deductions along with the balance within 45 days. Include copies of repair invoices and estimates.
  • Only deduct for damages beyond normal wear and tear. Do not deduct for pre-existing conditions. Consult Mississippi statutes for allowable deductions.
  • If withholding any part of the deposit, send a detailed letter explaining the reasons and include documentation.
  • Speak with a lawyer if you are unsure whether deductions are lawful. Improper withholding could lead to penalties.
  • If selling the property, transfer the tenant's deposit to the new owner to return to the tenant.
  • If disputes arise, try to negotiate in good faith with tenants before going to court. Document all communication.

Consequences of Violations

Mississippi law imposes penalties on landlords who fail to comply with security deposit regulations. If a landlord does not return the full deposit or provide a written itemized list of deductions within 30 days, the tenant can recover up to double the amount wrongfully withheld. For example, if a landlord illegally keeps $500 of a $1000 deposit, the tenant can recover $1000 (double the $500 withheld).  

Landlords can also face penalties if they retaliate against tenants for exercising their deposit rights. It is illegal for a landlord to increase rent, decrease services, attempt eviction, or otherwise harass a tenant who has reported deposit violations. Tenants can recover damages up to one month's rent plus attorney fees for retaliation claims.

Additionally, the Mississippi Attorney General's office has authority to investigate and prosecute landlords for willful violations of the security deposit law. This can result in injunctions, restraining orders, and civil monetary penalties imposed on the landlord. Severe or repeat offenders may face misdemeanor charges punishable by fines of $200 - $500 and up to 30 days imprisonment.


Tenant FAQ

What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can charge in Mississippi?

In Mississippi, landlords cannot charge a security deposit that is more than 1 month's rent. If the monthly rent is $1,000, the maximum security deposit would be $1,000.

When does a landlord have to return my security deposit?

Landlords in Mississippi must return your full security deposit within 45 days after you move out and return the keys.

What can a landlord deduct from my security deposit?

A landlord can legally deduct damages caused beyond normal wear and tear, any unpaid rent or utilities, and cleaning costs if you leave the unit very dirty. They cannot deduct for normal wear and tear.

What if the landlord does not return my deposit on time?

You can sue your landlord in small claims court for up to 3x the amount of your deposit if it is not returned to you within 45 days.

How do I get my full deposit back?

Take photos showing the condition when you move in and out. Keep records of all rent payments. Leave the unit clean and undamaged except for normal wear and tear. 

Landlord FAQ

What are my responsibilities for the security deposit?

In Mississippi, you must keep deposits in a separate bank account and return the full deposit within 45 days or provide an itemized list of deductions.

Can I deduct for carpet stains or nail holes?

Minor stains or small nail holes are considered normal wear and tear that cannot be deducted from the deposit.

What if the tenant damaged the unit?

You can deduct reasonable costs to repair damages beyond normal wear and tear, with receipts and documentation.

Do I have to provide receipts for cleaning or repairs?

Yes, you must provide tenants with an itemized list of deductions along with documentation like receipts or repair estimates.

What if I want to make deductions?

To legally deduct from the deposit, you must send tenants an itemized statement of deductions within 45 days of move out.

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