Important Things Every Renter Should Know About Security Deposits

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021
key hanging from lock on door

It might be confusing for first-time renters when their landlord requires more money upfront than just the first month’s rent.  There is no need to worry.  This payment is called a security deposit and is very common.  Read on to find out more.


Security Deposits are Normal


A security deposit is a payment given to a property owner or landlord by the tenant at the beginning of a lease agreement. Security deposits safeguard the owner against severe loss. Tenants are inspired to take better care of the home or apartment and honor their contract by putting money down as collateral. This deposit is an addition to your first month’s rent. Landlords are not required to collect a security deposit, however, most do so. 


Security Deposit Laws


Many states in the U.S. have set a cap on how much renters have to pay towards their security deposits. The amounts vary depending on where the property is located. For instance, the limit in Arkansas cannot be more than two months’ rent, whereas New Hampshire law limits security deposits to one month’s rent or $100, whichever is higher. However, many states have no edicts associated with maximum legal rental property security deposits. Counties and cities can also put caps on security deposits. You should always familiarize yourself with any pertinent local laws, despite what state, county, and city you are renting in.


Security Deposits are Refundable


Fortunately, security deposits are refundable as long as you are a conscientious tenant. After moving out, a renter will get their security deposit back as long as they have taken good care of the property, cleaned it, and adhered to all instructions from the landlord. However, it can be very difficult to get a security deposit returned, so you must be diligent at caring for your rental home or apartment. 

Here are some tips to help you get that deposit money back.

  • Take Photos The Day You Move In

Before you even move into the rental property take photos of every room and any damage or flaw you find.  It’s a good idea to give your landlord a dated and signed copy of the photos. This will prove that any existing damage was not created by you.  

  • Take Photos The Day You Move Out

Document how your rental property looks when you move out. If you have left it in proper condition, give the landlord dated photos when you leave. These confirm that you have managed the rental properly, and will safeguard you if damage is done by a new tenant after you move.

  • Thoroughly Read Your Lease

It is possible to leave your rental property before the date recorded on your lease agreement if it lists an end date.  Nevertheless, if a renter has to give notice, they need to make sure that the landlord gives them a receipt when they are given the notice. It is imperative that tenants understand the lease because they could lose their security deposit if the terms of the lease agreement are broken. If they are renting from month to month, they usually have to give 30 days’ notice before they move out of the rental house.

  • Learn Tenant and Landlord Laws

The renter needs to understand how rental laws influence their circumstances. Landlords are obligated to adhere to the laws in their city, county, and state. If your landlord denies your security deposit return, write the landlord a letter when you vacate the property. Remind them of the local laws in your letter. This sends the message that you expect to get the security deposit back. Demand a detailed reason why the landlord is withholding your security deposit.

  • Tie Up the Loose Ends

When you drop off your keys with your landlord be sure to leave them a forwarding address. Notify your landlord about the address you want your security deposit sent to, especially if it is different than the forwarding address given. This information is important and will help you get your deposit back promptly. 


Security Deposits are a Necessity for Most Renters


You might think that you are all done once you’ve paid the initial security deposit. However, the landlord can require an additional security deposit when you renew your lease. The additional money paid is still eligible for reimbursement once you’ve vacated the property.


In the U.S., security deposits are the standard for renters. Finding a landlord that doesn’t expect a security deposit is virtually unheard of. Paying the security deposit shouldn’t trouble you, but you should be ready for it. Understanding what to expect when renting is essential. 


Considering renting a house in  Amarillo, Texas? Get in touch with the experts at Highland Park Village for a different rental experience. You can reach us at (806) 335-1451. You can also Contact Us by email or visit us in person at 13300 Bandera Dr. in Amarillo.