security deposit

Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary

A payment required by a landlord to ensure that a tenant pays rent on time and keeps the rental unit in good condition. If the tenant damages the property or leaves owing rent, the landlord can use the security deposit to cover what the tenant owes. The laws of most states limit the size of a deposit, dictate its use, and set specific rules for when and how landlords must return the deposit.

Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.