Rental Security Deposit

Don’t Get Stiffed: When Landlords Can and Cannot Keep Your Security Deposit

In the market of rental property, there are number of issues between tenants and landlords surrounding the property. One outstanding issue is when landlords refuse to return the security deposit that they took upfront. The majority of states ensure strict landlord guidelines regarding when and how they can return rental security deposits. Any landlord who violates these laws could be assessed some very severe fines and penalties.

A Look At Wear and Tear Of A Rental Property

Renting 101 – landlords are not allowed to legally hold a tenant responsible for the normal wear and tear of a unit. For instance, if an electrical and/or gas appliance goes out because it’s just old, the landlord is required to replace it without holding blame to the tenant.

If a tenant or the tenant’s guest(s) damage the home through careless actions or deliberate misuse, the tenant will be required to pay for those damages. If they are not from your own fault, you may send a letter of landlord repair request as a tenant's legal right. If your fish tank leaked onto the living room carpet, the cost to replace it is likely to come from the rental security deposit. A rental unit must be in the same or better condition as when the tenant first moved in.

The term “normal wear and tear” is often interpreted in various ways, which is why disputes come about. The best thing you can do is document the home’s condition when you move in so you’ll have a strong case should the landlord try to gouge you after you have moved out.

Security Deposit Deadlines

Landlords are generally required to give back a tenant’s security deposit between two and four weeks. Of course, each state makes up their own rules about how long a landlord has to return the security deposit. Landlords are required to send the entire deposit (along with any interest) or a written itemized statement how the deposit was applied to cleaning, repairs, back rent, etc. to the address you have given to him/her or the last address they have for you.

A Look At Small Claims Court

Should your landlord not give you your deposit back when and how it’s stipulated, you have the option to take the landlord to small claims court. Some states, if a landlord is found in violation of withholding the deposit, requires a landlord to give up to three times more of the initial deposit to the tenant and pay for any damages and attorney fees.

For more rental property related information, go to Free Legal Forms site, browse and download many legal forms for free, including lease agreement and Rental Agreement Forms that can be used by landlord and tenant. You would also want to know if landlord can increase the rent price at their will, by just giving them a notification.