Landlords may sometimes find themselves in security deposit disputes, which can be hard to deal with. Most often, the tenants often assume that they will get the full amount back when they leave the house. However, they fail to realize that the landlord has certain rights towards deducting a certain amount, if necessary.
These problems can get ugly, and cause you emotional and financial distress. Here are some tips to help you handle such disputes with dignity and ease.
Provide Tenants With Your Legal Reasons For Holding The Deposit
The most appropriate way of holding the deposit and solving the dispute is by showing the tenants that you have the legal right to do so if the tenant breaks the contract or the lease early in order to cover the expenses accompanying the same. However, these clauses must be mentioned in the agreement.
You can also withhold the amount when the tenant fails to pay the rent according to the terms in the agreement. Besides, if the property has suffered damages such as broken doors and windows, damaged appliances and furniture, or many holes in the walls, you have the authority to deduct the repair or replacement costs from the deposit. You can also hold/ deduct the amount if any of the objects or appliances are missing.
Follow The Security Deposit Laws
Even if you have the right to keep the security deposit according to the lease agreement, you are expected to follow the relevant laws of California to claim your right successfully. As a landlord, you are required to disclose the details regarding their deposited amount. It includes the details of the bank and the rate of interest at which the deposit is kept.
Each state has different landlord-tenant laws regarding the security deposit. In the state of California, you can charge a security amount equal to the rent of two months for an unfurnished house or three months’ rent for a furnished house.
You must return the deposit within 21 days after the tenant vacates the property. The owner must also provide the renters with valid reasons and evidence for such holding or deduction. (copies of invoices)
Support Your Claim With Evidence
It is also crucial to support your reasons for holding the deposit with solid evidence. If you claim that your property has been damaged, you should have before and after pictures of the same to prove your point. In addition, you need to show an estimation of the cost of the repairs required to fix the damaged property.
Keep the bills of the appliances that you buy for the rental property and the receipts of the repairs. These will act as evidence in case of disputes regarding the damage and the liability.
Be Ready for Legal Procedures
Despite abiding by all state and federal laws, following the terms of the lease, and presenting the necessary evidence, your tenant may sue you for holding the deposit. You may also end up in a small claims court if the issue worsens.
However, you can make a decision. If the amount of the security is not large, consider allowing the tenant to keep the deposit, as you will most likely spend an equivalent amount or more for legal expenses. If the amount and the expenses incurred are large, then you should go ahead and fight the case.
Hire A Property Manager
Hiring a Merced property manager before renting the property is a smart decision. The professional manager handles the contract and informs the tenants about the rules and the regulations related to using the property and the implications of security deposit.
If the security dispute issues are not handled well, it could damage your reputation as the landlord across the neighborhood. It is better to consult a property manager who knows your rights as the property owner and can guide you through the issues.
At River Drive Properties, we have a skilled team of professionals that assists you in effectively handling security deposit disputes. Our experience of over 30 years in the property management market ensures that we know what are the major points of concern in such disputes and can help you build a strong case. For more details, contact us at River Drive Properties.