1. Home

New Mexico Security Deposits FAQ

Find Out How State Law Restricts Landlords

By

Realtor showing couple new home Fresh Meat Media LLC/The Image Bank/Getty Images

When you sign a lease for an apartment, your landlord will probably require you to pay a security deposit. Later, when your lease ends and you vacate the apartment, you'll want your security deposit back as soon as possible.

How much a landlord may collect from you as a security deposit varies across the United States. In addition, states have their own laws that regulate how long a landlord may take to return your deposit, whether you're owed interest, the consequences for a landlord who fails to follow the law, and more.

Here are answers to commonly asked questions about security deposits for apartments in New Mexico. Do you have a question that isn't addressed here? Please ask.

Q: Why would a New Mexico landlord collect a security deposit from tenants?
A: New Mexico landlords aren't required to collect a security deposit from tenants. But because it's in a landlord's best interest to do so, it has become common practice. When a landlord collects a security deposit, it's a way of helping to ensure that the tenant will keep the apartment in good shape, pay the rent, and not suddenly break the lease and disappear, which could mean the tenant doesn't get the deposit returned.

Q: What's the most a New Mexico landlord can get from a tenant as a security deposit?
A: New Mexico landlords may collect a security deposit from tenants no greater than the amount of one month's rent for leases shorter than one year. For leases of one year or longer, New Mexico statutes impose no limit on the amount of a security deposit a landlord may charge.

Q: How long does a New Mexico landlord have to return a tenant's security deposit?
A: A New Mexico landlord has up to 30 days after the end of a tenancy to return the security deposit.

Q: May a New Mexico landlord legally keep some or all of a tenant's security deposit?
A: Yes. A landlord may apply some or all of a tenant's security deposit to cover back rent as well as damages caused by the tenant. If a landlord is returning any amount less than the full security deposit, the landlord has up to 30 days to send written notice to the tenant, in which the deductions are itemized.

Q: How can a tenant ensure she gets her security deposit from a New Mexico landlord?
A: The tenant should give the landlord a forwarding address for the return of the security deposit and/or an itemized accounting. If a tenant doesn't take this step, the New Mexico landlord must mail the deposit and/or accounting to the tenant's last known address, which could be the tenant's recently vacated apartment, or personally deliver the deposit and/or accounting to the tenant. New Mexico law makes it clear that tenants who don't provide a forwarding address don't forfeit their right to the return of their deposit.

Q: What happens if a New Mexico landlord doesn't return the deposit on time?
A: If a landlord doesn't send the security deposit or itemized accounting within the 30-day period, the landlord may be liable to pay the tenant the amount of the original security deposit plus a $250 penalty, as well as court and attorney's fees.

Q: Is a New Mexico landlord required to keep security deposits in separate accounts?
A: New Mexico doesn't require landlords to keep a tenant's security deposit in a separate account or earn interest during the tenancy, unless the deposit is an amount greater than one month's rent.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.