New Mexico Security Deposit Laws

How to get your security deposit back on a rental in New Mexico.
Written by Bee Davis
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
background
The amount landlords are permitted to charge for a security deposit in
New Mexico
depends on the length of your lease. Deposits are restricted to one month’s rent for leases that are less than one year. Leases that exceed one year are not restricted, but landlords are required to pay interest if they charge more than one month’s rent for a deposit. 
Security deposits can be a major upfront cost for renters. What’s more, it’s even more frustrating when you’re the perfect tenant while you’re renting but have to fight for your deposit once your lease is up. Since laws are different in every state, it may be hard to know what your rights are as a renter.  
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What is New Mexico law on security deposits?

Landlords in New Mexico are allowed to charge a security deposit to cover potential damages to their property during your tenancy. Your landlord will only refund your deposit at the end of your lease if they find you’ve obeyed the terms of the rental agreement. 
New Mexico
statute 47-8-18
dictates the terms by which landlords can charge you for deposits, including maximum limits and time frames for return. 

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

Landlords can only charge up to one month’s rent for leases that are less than one year. For leases one year or longer, there is no strict maximum on what tenants can be charged for a deposit. 
There is, however, a requirement that landlords pay interest on security deposits that exceed one month’s rent. That means that your landlord might charge you more for your deposit, but you can expect to receive more money back at the end of your lease in interest. 

How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit in New Mexico?

Landlords have up to 30 days to return your deposit once you hand over the keys. If you receive less than you paid at the beginning of your lease, you should receive an itemized list of deductions your landlord made and what damages they’re meant to cover.
Remember—it is illegal for an owner to not provide a list of deductions if they return less than your full deposit. If you do not receive a list of deductions within 30 days, your landlord forfeits the right to hold the deposit. 
Key Takeaway: Landlords have 30 days to return your deposit with an itemized list of deductions.

What can a landlord withhold a security deposit for in New Mexico?

While a landlord can choose to deduct the remaining rent from your deposit, the deposit largely exists to cover potential damages once your lease has ended. Here’s the difference between “damages” and “wear and tear” in this context: 
  • Damages affect the value, function, and quality of the rental unit. They’re caused by abuse or neglect by the tenant over the course of their lease. Examples include pet stains, broken windows, missing or broken fixtures, and holes in the wall. 
  • Wear and tear refers to the deterioration of the property past the current tenant's lease, things like the cost of refurbishing floors, replacing appliances, and maintaining facilities. 
Landlords can also charge a cleaning fee to deep clean your unit after you leave. You can avoid this fee by cleaning the unit yourself. 
Key Takeaway: A security deposit covers damages done to the unit during your lease, not the general upkeep for the property.

How to get your security deposit back in New Mexico

Let’s say you moved out of your apartment months ago and you have yet to see your deposit. This is typically not allowed. 
The best course of action is to contact your landlord in writing. It could be they just forgot to send your deposit info, or maybe there was a mixup with your address. Either way, having written communication about your lease agreement is important because it provides proof of your landlord’s statements in case you need it later.
Written communication comes in handy if you have to take your landlord to
small claims court
. You may have to resort to this option if your landlord refuses to give your deposit back and won’t tell you why. If you don’t receive an itemized list—or if you can prove there’s no cause for your deposit to be withheld—it might be a good idea to get help from the law

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FAQs

Yes, you can deduct your last month’s rent from your deposit, but if your landlord charges you for cleaning or damages you’ll have to make up the rest out of pocket.
Yes! A comprehensive cleaning fee may include carpet cleaning if your landlord sees fit. You can look for carpet cleaning services on the itemized list of deductions the owner is required to give you.
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