Top 5 Most Disputed Security Deposit Deductions | Murrieta Property Management
The purpose of a security deposit is to hold tenants accountable for holding up their end of the deal when it comes to rental property. They put down an agreed upon amount before they move in and if everything goes right, they get it back when they move out. The security deposit is usually a good chunk of change, which many tenants rely on to help them move on to their next place at the end of their lease. However, things don’t always go according to plan, landlords keep all or some of the deposit, and tenants dispute it. This results in a time-consuming and expensive process in small claims court that makes everyone stressed out and unhappy.
Professional management companies like Murrieta Property Management are experts in real estate laws, contracts and other legal matters and can be a great resource if you find yourself dealing with a security deposit dispute. Their expertise and experience with security deposits can help landlords avoid common security deposit issues. Different states have different laws when it comes to when and why landlords can hold onto the security deposit, but these are the top five most disputed security deposit deductions according to a local Temecula Property Manager:
The most popular reason for withholding a security deposit is due to damages of the rental property. Landlords perform an inspection before a tenant moves in and after they move out, and if there are damages beyond normal wear and tear, the landlord is legally allowed to keep the deposit. The difficult thing about this is that it can be hard to define damages vs. normal wear and tear. A landlord’s version of “damages” may be different than the renter’s, resulting in a dispute. Normal wear and tear is anything that happens to the house as a result of normal activity within the home. Faded paint due to the passing of time, worn in carpets in high-traffic areas, small chips dents in the walls, or scratched enamel in sinks and toilets. These are things that happen because the home is being used as a home. Damages to a home are results of blatant neglect or mistreatment, such as doors off of the of hinges, broken windows, clogged sinks, holes or stains in the carpet, and so on. Landlords are expected to clean up after tenant leaves and can’t use the security deposit to pay for professional cleaning unless the cleaning goes above and beyond what is considered a normal clean. Clear communication with renters about their expectations can make life easier for landlords and can prevent disputes over security deposit at the end of the lease.
Early Termination of Lease
One of the most common reasons renters forfeit their security deposit is because they move out before their lease is up. The rental contract clearly states how long the renters will be in the home and paying rent, and if they leave early, and especially if they leave without prior notice, this puts the landlord in a tough spot financially, and holding onto the security deposit is one way to lighten the blow a little. Early termination of the lease seems like a cut and dry issue, with little room for dispute, but it happens. Tenants who move out early sometimes demand their security deposit back based on the reasons why they had to move out. They may claim the home was unlivable, the neighbors were intolerable or they may feel that the landlord wasn’t responsive to their needs, resulting in them having no choice but to move out. Including an ‘early termination of lease clause” in a rental contract is a good way to avoid any misunderstandings about this issue.
Failure To Pay Rent
According to a prominent Murrieta Property Management Company the tenant’s main responsibility in living in a rental is to pay the landlord the agreed upon rental rate each month on time. If they can’t pay, they can’t stay, and the eviction process begins. Again, renters may feel entitled to stop paying the rent due to specific living conditions and will dispute the deductions taken from their security deposit. A clear breakdown of the renter’s responsibility and consequences for not meeting these expectations should be laid out in the lease before they move in. Checking their credit, following up with references, and doing background checks are all helpful ways to ensure the tenants that go into the home can afford to be there.
If a renter and landlord have agreed that the renter is responsible for specific utilities while they live there, yet the renter fails to pay them, the landlord can keep all of part of the deposit to pay for the outstanding utilities. Check your state laws, but in most cases, any bills under the tenant’s name are their responsibility, and bills under the landlord’s name are his/her responsibility. Making it clear about who is responsible for what can prevent misunderstandings and expensive solutions to avoidable problems.
A security deposit works to keep both parties accountable for their responsibilities as listed in the lease. It provides the landlord with a safety net in case renters don’t hold up their end of the bargain and shows the landlord that the renters are serious and accountable tenants who will take care of the property and follow the rules. A Temecula and Murrieta Property Management Company can advise you on such terms. At the end of the day, the best way to avoid a dispute or day in small claims court is for both parties to be explicit about their expectations and keep lines of communication open and honest so that everyone is on the same page.
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