08 Apr When Tenant’s Damages Exceed Security Deposit
Landlords and property managers know they need to collect a security deposit from tenants in the event their rental unit is damaged. However, what happens if the price of repairs exceeds the amount of the security deposit?
Are landlord’s stuck with the extra costs? The answer is: No, not if you do a thorough job.
You first need to make sure everything is documented, including what the rental unit looks like before any tenant moves in. Make sure you take dated “before” pictures of the entire home – carpet, walls, fixtures, appliances, doors, windows etc. That way, you have proof of the condition of the rental prior to the tenant’s residency. It will be a lot easier to then prove a tenant was responsible for any damages.
Secondly, a landlord should take lots of pictures of the damages before they get repaired. Then, make a list of all the repair costs. You can get official written estimates from contractors/repairmen, or pay to have the work completed and then bill the tenant for the charges. Save all of the receipts, as you will need a statement of the costs to prove it exceeds the amount of the security deposit.
Once you have the itemized list of damages and costs to repair, then you can bill the tenant for the difference. Remember, property managers have three weeks to two months to return a security deposit, depending on your state laws. So, make sure you act quickly. If you do your job documenting everything properly, it’s more likely the tenant will pay for the damages and you can avoid small claims court.
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