Rules Related To Returning A Tenant's Security Deposit

Posted on: 10 November 2019

If you manage rental properties and collect security deposits from tenants when they move in, this money is not really yours. A security deposit is something you will have to return to the tenant when he or she moves out; however, there are times when you can keep this money. There are rules about this, though, and here are several things you should understand about security deposits and returning them to tenants.

You cannot keep it for normal wear and tear

A security deposit is something you, the landlord, hold on to as a way of protecting yourself, but this money is not something you can keep simply because a tenant moved out and left normal wear and tear in the unit. When a person lives in an apartment, the person will live life there, and this means that the unit will experience some wear. There may be some stains or smudges on the walls, the carpeting might be worn in certain places, and the plumbing fixtures might have some staining in them. These are normal results of life, and you cannot charge a tenant for the costs to make repairs for these types of things.

You can keep it for certain reasons

While you cannot keep the security deposit for the costs or wear and tear, there are things you can keep it for, including the following things:

Damage – Damage that is beyond normal wear and tear is the responsibility of the tenant who lived there, and you can keep the money to pay for the repairs needed for parts of the apartment that the tenant damaged.

Rent – If the tenant owes you rental money when moving out, you can keep the security deposit for this purpose.

There are additional things, too, and you should brush up on the laws in your state to learn more.

You must send a letter and explanation within a certain time

The other important thing to know is that you will have to send the tenant a letter with an explanation of the security deposit after he or she moves out, and you will have a limited amount of time to do this. The time frame depends on the rules of your state, though.

If you decide to keep the security deposit just because you want to, you could end up facing legal issues. As a landlord, you may want to consider hiring a property management company to assist you with tasks like this or other management-related tasks, and you can do so by contacting a company in your area, such as MacPherson's  Property Management.