Security deposits can become a major source of complaints, costing you time and money especially if you end up in court. I’ve found that this is generally the result of not properly disclosing exactly what you expect from the landlord/tenant relationship before they move in.
I let tenants know that $xx of the deposit will be used to clean the carpet when they move out, and they will not get it back.
Also it’s not sufficient to simply state that the premises must be left clean and undamaged in order for tenants to receive their deposits back. Require that they clean the entire home, including the range, oven, refrigerator, bathrooms, closets, cabinets, windows, carpet, and balcony.
Another thing I now include is a bed-bug clause. Right, I’m talking about those small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.
Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found. So it shouldn’t surprise you if they pop up in your rental.
Let the tenant know that you will have an exterminator certify that your property is bed-bug free. And when they move out, it will be inspected again. If bed bugs are present, the cost to remove them will be deducted from the security deposit.
When the tenant moves out, you must provide a written statement of charges you are withholding and return any balance remaining. Failure to do so could easily land you in small claims court. For instance, in Florida if a landlord who wants to keep the security deposit doesn't notify a tenant in writing within 30 days of the move, the landlord must refund the full amount of the deposit.
And don’t let tenants talk you into using this money if they get behind in rent. It’s there to cover damage beyond normal wear and tear … nothing more.
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