Protect Your Security Deposit

Security deposits are funds collected by the landlord at the start of your tenancy to cover unpaid rent or damages to the rental unit that are incurred during occupancy. The deposit is typically equal to one or one and a half month’s rent, and usually there is an additional pet deposit if any pets will be living in the residence. The funds are held throughout the term of the lease and may be refunded when you leave as long as your account is paid up to date, no damage was done to the unit and you leave it as clean as it was when you moved in. Failure to do any of these could result in full or partial forfeiture of your security deposit.

Before settling in to a new rental unit, document the initial condition of the property by taking pictures, and make a list with detailed descriptions of any prior defects or damages. Be sure to confirm these issues with the landlord at this time, so come moving day you are both on the same page as to what the condition of the unit was at the start of your tenancy. The time in which a landlord must return a security deposit varies from state to state. Refer to this link to check the security deposit deadline in your state: Deadline for Returning Security Deposits, State-by-State


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NOLO Law for All

The Application Process: Why do landlords need so much information???

When applying for an apartment or home to rent, don’t be surprised if the property landlord requires you to submit an abundance of documentation along with your completed application and application fee. Many landlords also need copies of the following:

• Driver’s license or state ID
• Passport
• Credit report within the last 30 days
• Paystubs from the past month
• Previous year’s W2
• Bank statement
• Previous rent receipts

It is also common for landlords to conduct a background check on each applicant over the age of 18, and they may contact previous landlords to verify rental history. Although it seems like a lot of information, it is all part of the application screening process to evaluate each potential tenant. Generally, landlords who have a more strict screening policy take care of their properties, so it is worth the extra effort.

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Know who/when to call…

Things happen, stuff breaks, things leak, tubs overflow, dryers stop drying, problems, problems, problems! Know when to reach out and contact your landlord if something happens. It’s in your best interest as well as the landlord’s best interest to notify and be notified of anything major that may need immediate attention on the property. Keeping those lines of communication open may be the difference between a $30 repair and a $3000 repair!

Also know when not to call your landlord. If a light bulb goes out, a kitchen knob comes loose, or something simple you could easily fix yourself happens within reason, just take care of it yourself. Most leases will have a clause noting repairs under $50 are the responsibility of the tenant.

It’s also important to know WHO to call and have those numbers handy at all times should something happen.

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