Are You a Landlady? Don’t Lose Security Deposits!

House owner/real estate agent giving away the keys


Requiring a security deposit is a great way to ensure that you aren’t stuck with the bill if your property requires extra maintenance or cleaning after your tenants have moved out. If the property doesn’t require any extra attention, the security deposit is generally returned to the tenant upon moving out. However, in order to know if your tenant will be getting their security deposit back, you have to do a thorough examination of the property after the tenant has left.

As women, our detail-oriented nature definitely gives us a leg up for finding problems that would require extra time or money to ensure a rental is ready for new tenants, resulting in your former tenants potentially losing part of their deposit. And this happens more often than you might think. In fact, U.S. New and World Report found that about 25 percent of renters have lost their security deposit due to one reason or another. To make sure you don’t leave any stones unturned, here are the most common reasons people lose their security deposits and what you should check before you send your former tenant their refund.

Unapproved Modifications or Additions

It’s not unheard of for tenants to leave a property, having made changes or modifications to the rental without the landlord’s permission. While this could be something as small as a hole in the wall, it could also be repainting walls or even changing the layout of the home. These types of changes are viable reasons to withhold part or all of a tenant’s security deposit.

Leaving a Mess

Most tenants are required to clean their rental upon departure. However, some tenants leave garbage and belongings, even after they’ve vacated. If you’re the property manager having to deal with anything that was left behind, you can deduct money from the tenant’s security deposit. Additionally, if you require someone to come in and clean up after the tenants, you can deduct that charge from the tenant’s security deposit as well.

Pet Damage

The majority of landlords who allow their tenants to have pets require an additional security deposit. This added deposit is meant to cover any monetary cost as a result of damage done by the pet. This could include scratches, stains or smells.

Terminated the Lease Early

Depending on what your contract says, there may be justification for maintaining your tenant’s security deposit if they terminate their lease earlier than was specified on their agreement. However, there can be other actions taken as opposed to keeping the security deposit, like the tenant having to continue to pay rent throughout the rest of the time of the contract, giving at least 60 days notice, paying for an extra month’s rent and more, according to

As a businesswoman and landlord, you hope you can trust your tenant to leave your property the same way it was received. However, this is not always going to be the case. A real estate investment needs to be handled with the proper care in order to continue receiving a favorable return on that invest. So when you are forced to make repairs or adjustments after a tenant moves out, you will be glad you required a security deposit in order to pay for the cost.

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