The vast majority of landlords charge a security deposit when a new tenant moves into their property. This protects them in case they suffer a material or financial loss caused by the tenant. But what gives them a right to keep the deposit when the tenant leaves? Let’s look at a few common situations.
The Tenant Breaks the Lease
If a tenant breaks their lease and moves out early, the landlord is stuck scrambling trying to find a new tenant. The laws vary by region and it will also depend on what is written in the contract. If the tenant gives plenty of notice (60 days for example) the landlord may not have a right to withhold the security deposit.
However, what happens if the tenant gives very little notice and the property is empty for a few weeks before a new tenant can be found? In that case, the landlord usually has the right to withhold the security deposit to cover the period between tenants.
If it turns out not to be enough, they may also charge the tenant for the extra rent. If they find a new tenant quickly and have an excess, they may return the unused portion to the old tenant.
The Tenant Caused Excessive Damage
Stuff wears out, that’s part of life and landlords are responsible for damages caused by normal wear and tear. However, if the tenant caused excessive damage either through neglect, uncleanly habits, or outright abuse, they are responsible for their behavior. The landlord has a right to keep the security deposit to cover the cost of repairs.
This is very important to keep in mind for tenants especially. When doing the initial walk-thru and move-in inspections, it is critical that you document everything that is wrong with the property, preferably with pictures. That way, when you move out the landlord can’t say that you caused the damage and charge you for it.
The Tenant Didn’t Pay Their Rent or Utilities
A landlord has an obligation to provide a safe place for the tenant to reside. As long as they keep up their end of the bargain, a tenant has no right not to pay for this service.
Unfortunately, sometimes tenants stop paying their rent or leave the property with unpaid utility bills. In these cases, the landlord has the right to keep the security deposit to offset covering these costs.
Getting Security Deposit Refunds
If the tenant holds up their end of the bargain, there is no reason for a landlord to refuse to return their security deposit. As you can see, security deposits are there to protect the landlord in the event that they get a less-than-upstanding citizen as a tenant.
Landlords often use the rent money from their tenants to pay the mortgage on a property, meaning they have to scramble to pay the bank if their tenants miss their rent payments. However, that doesn’t mean that a good tenant doesn’t deserve a security deposit refund.
Looking for more help understanding the landlord-tenant relationship? Check out more of our blog!
Contact Deposit Defender
At Deposit Defender, with our app, you can thoroughly document the condition of a property before you move in so that there’s no question about who is at fault for damages after you move out.
To see how easy our app is to use, click here to download and try it out today, you will be glad that you did.