Owning a rental property can be a great way to earn additional income. However, Part of the job of being a landlord requires sometimes managing someone else’s money. Deposits deductions and returns have to be handled properly or there can be legal problems arise.
As a landlord, you will need to collect and handle rental deposits when tenants come or go. Rental deposits are considered the tenant’s money until there is damage to the rental property that deems the deposit compensation for repairs. Make sure you and the tenant are on the same page and make sure you have a company policy that defines actions that can cause the tenant to loss their deposit. Double D property Solutions can help learn more about this.
Inspect the Rental House Together
Good property managers walk thru the rental house with the tenant to confirm the condition of the house. Make sure everything is in writing and take photos and video as needed. Have both parties sign off on any defects found in the house. Make sure the tenant understands their obligation to keep the property in the same (or better) condition in which they receive it. The tenant should understand any damage, over normal wear and tear, will be taken out of the deposit. Taking these extra steps can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
We usually ask for a deposit equal to the rent for added insurance. The deposit should cover any damage beyond normal wear and tear. This also helps in the screening process. If the prospective tenant can’t save two months’ worth of rent, they don’t qualify anyway. Also, if the tenant, for whatever reason, skips town without warning, the deposit will cover rent for that month. That is why we are punctual with notifying tenants about late rents, so any missed rents can be covered by the deposit.
Additional situations may require additional deposits. Many landlords will require an additional deposit for a pet or waterbed. Anything that could accidentally cause additional damage to the property should be covered with a deposit. Sometimes we will ask for additional rent for tenants that don’t quite qualify, but we return the additional deposit after a year of timely paid rents. There are lots of ways to make a rental agreement work.
Return the Deposit
Many landlords forget what the deposit is for. The deposit is simply security that the homeowner does not get stuck paying for repairs of a disrespectful tenant. Returning the deposit means the tenant did their job. Many property managers don’t do this, but we will make it understood that if the tenant makes the house rent ready before they leave, we will let them out of the lease at ANY time and they get their entire deposit returned in full. That is the purpose of it anyway. This is when it really pays to have everything in writing. The tenant needs to understand that you’ll most likely need to clean and make repairs (no matter how minor) in order to have the house in good condition for the next tenant. Less down time for the rental and the tenant moving out gets their money back… win-win.
Carefully review your initial inspection and calculate the costs needed to restore the home to this state. Anything owed back to the tenant will need to be returned as soon as possible and in no longer than 30 days.
Handle With Care
Some states require all rental deposits are kept in a separate account. Even if your state doesn’t require this, it is a good practice to keep deposits from commingling with other income. Make sure you follow the rules for your state! And keep in mind, the money needs to be accessible for returns or repairs when needed. If you own many properties, a property management company can be beneficial in helping to manage your funds. They can also handle some of the headaches, repairs, tenants, and vacancy issues that come along with owning rental properties! We are Professional Landlords, that’s what we do.
To make sure everything runs smoothly, always make all policies regarding the deposits known to tenants. Be as transparent and communicative as possible to avoid any conflicts. Always strive to make sure you and the tenant are on the same page! And remember to treat them the way you would like to be treated!
Would you like to learn more about tenant relations and property management? Send us a message and let us know how we can help! Or give us a call today! (478) 256-9947