The Complete Guide to Security Deposits

From the Basics to Security Deposit Disputes

It is very important to require every tenant who moves into your property to put down a security deposit in addition to the first month's rent. This deposit will act as insurance in case the tenant does not adhere to the terms of the lease agreement they have signed.

Learn what a security deposit is, reasons you can keep a security deposit, how to handle a security deposit dispute and the essential security deposit clauses you must include in your lease.

The Basics of the Security Deposit

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Before you can require your tenants to give you a security deposit, you must first understand what a security deposit is. Each state has different requirements as to how much you can collect, how you are to hold the security deposit and the reasons you can keep the security deposit. Here are the basics every landlord should know.

5 Reasons You Can Keep a Tenant's Security Deposit

If a tenant has followed all the rules, you are required to return their security deposit. However, when a tenant does not abide by the terms of their lease, you may be allowed to keep all or a portion of their security deposit. The rules for keeping a tenant's security deposit may differ by state or even by the city where your rental property is located. Here are five common reasons you can keep a tenant's security deposit.

How to Protect Your Right to the Security Deposit

Even though you may legally be entitled to keep a tenant's security deposit due to issues such as a breach of lease or damage to the apartment, if you do not follow your state's security deposit laws, you may be forced to return the security deposit to the tenant. Learn ten things you can do to help ensure you receive the money you are rightfully owed.

How to Handle a Security Deposit Dispute

Unfortunately, the security deposit can be the cause of much conflict between a landlord and tenant. Both sides feel they are rightfully entitled to the money. Often, these issues can be worked out between the landlord and tenant, but sometimes each side has such a different view that the dispute can only be worked out in court. Here are the steps you should take if you involved in a dispute over the return of a tenant's security deposit.

Sample Security Deposit Lease Clause

A security deposit clause is an important part of every lease agreement. This clause will help protect you in case there is a dispute over the security deposit in the future. Learn the important information you should include in this clause to ensure you are following your state's laws and you are protected.

Sample Security Deposit Acknowledgment Form

Many states require the landlord to notify the tenant in writing as to the bank and the interest rate where their security deposit is being held. Even if your state does not have this requirement, it is still good practice to send your tenant a form acknowledging you have received their security deposit. Learn what you should include in a security deposit acknowledgment form and when the tenant should sign it.

Security Deposit Limits by State

Many states have a limit as to the maximum amount you can charge a tenant as a security deposit. Learn what the limit is in your state.

Security Deposit Laws by State

Every state has landlord-tenant laws which govern the landlord-tenant relationship, including security deposit issues. Learn what the law says regarding security deposits in your state.