nflliferMay 8, 2006

I was wondering what peoples experiences with deposits have been. I'm a landlord myself and try extreamly hard to give back everything. In MN they also get interest! I notify them as soon as I get their notice things to clean, how I will show their unit and remind them they need to set up the walk through. I also include a copy of our first walkthrough. My lease requires they get the carpets cleaned by a professional and I include a few recomended cleaners that give discounts for me. After I do showing I notify them if I saw anything they need to clean before they move. Together we do the walkthrough and I point out anything that is not quite right. I also like to give them a day to correct anything I pointed out to save them the money. I'm guessing close to 85% get everything back. The 15% that dont, agree during the walkthrough on a price to correct or clean whatever needs to be done. It's never been a problem for me and all but one tenant have been fine with the charges.

Reason I ask is many tenants moving in seem to be extreamly concearned like they had been taken advantage of before.

Has this been an issue for others, and if so why or how?

I have never rented so I don't know what its like to worry about a deposit. Thanks!

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I just moved away from an apartment where I never saw ONE penny of my deposit back.

The manager did the walk through, mid month, day before Easter when I had boxes everywhere, trying to prepare for out of town family dinner etc. It was a very UNFAIR thing to do to me, as one cannot get a fair assessment with furniture and things still in the apartment. She refused to do another walk through with me once we emptied out.

I scrubbed everything down, and cleaned behind the fridge and stove. I left everything spotless. My lease requires that $75.00 is immediately taken from the deposit for a carpet cleaning - which is fine with me.

Once I cleaned everything and patched up tiny nail holes from pictures that were hung, I snapped pictures of every wall, fixture, the bath tub, sink, toilet, floors and carpeting. Including the balconey. I had copies made and put them in an envelope with my keys and gate remote.

I phoned the manager about the deposit and she let me know that we won't be getting anything back, because they have to paint and re-carpet. But guess what? CA law says after two years of tenancy to one apartment, the tenant is not responsible for a new paint job. Yet I have to pay for that, and the new carpet someone else is getting.

I was screwed all around, and my husband said I shouldn't have wasted my time with all the cleaning I did. In all my years of renting, never have I left an apartment filthy upon moving. It makes me feel uneasy to do so.

I hate to say this but the majority of landlords and owners just don't care. I have been ripped off on deposit money 2 other times before as well. They always come up with some reason as to why they aren't giving it back, or I get a partial sum back.

I take care of the places I live in. I treat it like it's my home. I don't understand why I have such difficulties with owners. I think it's time to start planning on buying my own home.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 3:48AM
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I've only not gotten my entire deposit back once. Every apartment I've rented has been run by a big national management company, so they have more stake in maintaining a good reputation than a landlord that only has one property.

The one time I didn't get all of it back it was because the woman who was there when I signed the lease was new and didn't have a clue. This was the apartment we lived in in Washington. We found out after living there for several months that, although there is nothing in the lease about it, nor in any of the paperwork, they prefer that tenants not smoke in the apartments. Nobody who worked there ever told us that, including the maintenance guy who had to come in a couple times and fix the things that weren't fixed before we moved in, and then later come rid our place of mice.

AFter we moved back to Michigan and I got my partial deposit back I called and asked why, and was told it was because they had to do extra cleaning because we smoked in the apartment. I was caught off guard, because in Michigan they can't do that. In fact, in Michigan they can only keep your deposit for damages. They are REQUIRED to clean the carpets and paint (if the walls are painted, and not wallpapered like my current apartment) and clean the apartment between tenants. It's considered a cost of doing business and not the renter's responsibility.

czarinax, take that jerk to court. Seriously, you are entitled to your deposit. You've even got photographs proving that you are entitled to it. Don't let him get away with it, that's why he did it to you, because someone before you let him get away with it.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 8:19AM
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Obviously Czarinax is a good tenant. Only a few of mine have ever patched the holes in the wall. I think it works well for me to just be up front so there are no surprises. I am glad you replied as I was wondering how that turned out. The LL was really jerking you around.

In MN the landlord has 21 days to get the deposit back or a letter as to why some or all has been kept. If the deposit is not returned by the 21st the tenant gets back two times the deposit no matter the condition! If this doesn't motivate landlords to get on the ball I don't know what else would.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 11:43AM
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Our last landlord never gave our deposit back. We had lived in the apartment for 5 years, never smoked inside, kept it clean, etc.; our landlord lived in a townhome actually ATTACHED to our apartment and, over the years we lived there, had become a friend as well (or so we thought); we would have him and his family over for dinner pretty often, even invited him to our wedding.

Very shortly after we moved out (into a house right next door to our apartment-- landlord was also a real estate agent, helped us buy our first home), landlord had some health issues come up, we never got our deposit back but we chalked it up to him having health problems, probably just forgot about it, etc.

This went on for 6 months (by which time landlord was home again from the hospital, all better), so I finally called him to ask about the security deposit. I asked in a very casual, "haven't heard anything from you about our security deposit, wondering if there was anything left of it" sort of way. To which he replied, "no, I used it all towards painting and new carpet." I calmly told him that I would need to see that stuff itemized, in writing-- and I'm still waiting for it, a year later.

Mind you-- we had been in that apartment for 5 years, of COURSE it needed paint. And the carpet was installed new prior to the tenant BEFORE us, and she had been there for 5 years, so the carpet was 10 years old by the time we moved out. It was worn, but no more than a 10-year old carpet would normally be-- and it wasn't like we had wine-spilling contests on it or anything, you know?

I researched the laws in our state; landlord technically had 30 days to provide us with the entire money refunded, or an itemized receipt of charges that it went for; we got neither. I strongly, STRONGLY considered pursuing it legally, but as I said, this man is still our neighbor and I would prefer not to start a neighborhood war, so I've decided to let it drop. (It was only $360... not a huge amount, but still.)

It's worth noting, though, that we have not spoken to him or even waved at him ever since we moved in next door and this security deposit stuff came up. Just because I have decided not to pushy about it doesn't mean I have to be friendly anymore, either. I've resigned myself to the thought that he is a miserable, greedy, self-serving human being who will get his at some point, and I'm OK with that.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 3:23PM
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CNVH, I guess part of getting even will be when you put a for sale sign up and its with a different agents name. :)

I remember this story now. I have sold places to my tenants and the ALL have gotten the full deposit back. Even if little things were not right. I see the big picture and want to sell there house and help them buy the next, and tell their friends about me.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 9:08PM
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I got my entire deposit back with interest. But I had lived in the apartment for 12 years!! I should have gotten some stock in the place! LOL!!! Anyway, I followed the instructions they gave me for cleaning (clean bathroom tile/tub, refrigerator, stove, scrub vinyl floors and vacuum carpet) and they didn't give me any problems at all. I honestly considered forfeiting it, though. Who has time to do all that in the midst of moving???

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 10:24AM
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Recent update on my situation, which has been long, LONG overdue... last week, saw our former landlord/now neighbor out pruning the hedges that separate his yard and ours; he was standing in OUR yard to do his thing, so since the opportunity was there, I went over and had a chat... It had been 18 months since we moved out, over a year since I called him and asked about the return of the security deposit (he said it went towards carpet and paint, I asked him to send an itemized receipt, we never got it or heard anything else from him again since)...

The conversation started out casual, "how have you been," etc., etc... finally I was standing there getting more and more annoyed, so I decided to just come out with it. I told him that I had been meaning to talk with him about this issue, it's been a long LONG time overdue and quite honestly, I am upset that he did not give us anything back on our security deposit, then never even sent a receipt for charges when I asked for it.

He was immediately apologetic, at first said he never realized he didn;t return it, he knew we were upset with him but couldn't figure out why, blah blah blah... Then I reminded him he told me he used the deposit for paint and new carpet. Then his story changed, "oh yeah, well I DID have to repaint and recarpet..." I had to remind him that we were in the apartment for just under 5 years and expect that a repaint would be expected, not charged for. "You were there that long? I didn't realize!" And as for the carpet, I had to remind him that the previous tenant had been there for almost as long as we were, so the carpet was about 10 years old. "Well, you're right, I hadn't thought about that," he said.

When all was said and done, he offered to send us a check for $300 out of the $360 deposit (we DID accidentally break a light fixture when we were moving out, and I expected some of the deposit to go for that at least).

The check arrived in the mail last week, in the amount agreed upon, so the drama has been relieved-- and I didn't have to go to court or get a lawyer to make it happen. Just goes to show that the old-fashioned way of "let's talk it over like adults" does indeed have positive results every now and then. :)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 3:10PM
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AWSOME!!!! I think the time to have everyone cool down really helped. Or perhaps he reads this board :) hahaha!

This is really great! Your original post on this was one of the first ones I read.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2006 at 9:55PM
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If a tennant is worried that the LL will not give the security deposit back, the solution is simple....just dont pay the last months rent.
If you know when you are going to move, hold onto the last months rent payment, and consider that as the security deposit.
It sounds simple enough, why wouldnt it work.??
maybe Im missing something???

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 11:31AM
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"If a tennant is worried that the LL will not give the security deposit back, the solution is simple....just dont pay the last months rent."

Try this with me and you get evicted before the 15th. Thats my policy, you would also have to pay a late fee of around 10% and court fees of close to $300.

Rent is due on the first regaurdless. I also make sure it gets on your credit report. (I know, I'm a jerk, BUT I do return deposits)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 2:14PM
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Its the "games" that some tenants and landlords play that give tenants and landlords a bad reputation. The golden rule applies here. For every bad landlord story, I bet I can come up with a bad tenant story such as the tenant that stuck gum (not just one piece but hundreds) to the ceiling and was upset because we kept their deposit.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 9:55AM
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Well, here in NY, you can't get evicted by the 15th, it doesnt work that way.
My company has had tennants that didn't pay for close to 6 months, court hearings back and forth, There is no way on earth that if you were late by 15 days that you would be evicted.
I still stand by my idea, use last months security as rent.
In my building, if a tennant skips out, the LL will have it rented within a week, it gets painted and tennants move in. It is more trouble than its worth to battle with tennants for a months rent.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 11:14AM
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In my State I charge $50 on the second for a late fee. On the 5th I file a UD and the hearing is set for the following Thursday. Typically around the 15th is this hearing. If the tenant can not prove he or she paid, they have 2 days at the judges discretion to get out. Its no trouble at all. Two trips to the court house and less than an hour of time. If the tenant decides to pay at court they have to not only pay their rent but an additional $300 for court and service work. Judges used to give tenants more like a 7 - 10 days but now its a standard of two. Reason is I evicted a guy and the judge said 10 days unless you can come up with the money. On day 9 he was arrested for trying to rob a McDonalds in order to pay his rent.

Even in NY you can't stay 6 months. It may happen but it wasn't handled properly and is not the law. The longest it can be drug out in MN is one week after the intitial hearing.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 5:08PM
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Well, it did happen here in NY. The tennant was Section 8, welfare or whatever you wanna call it. Then after the hearings which really was 6 months later, he left the apt in the middle of the night. One of the other tennants ratted him out. Obviously the tennant knew the system. The the LL (my company I work for) just put add in paper and rented it out we never chased him, it is more trouble than its worth.

But seriously, if you didnt get rent by the 2nd, you go thru all this trouble?? When I rented, I mailed usually the last week of the month for the following month, Im sure there were times when it did not get to the office till 3rd or 4th, my LL never called. He always got it.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 2:41PM
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"If a tennant is worried that the LL will not give the security deposit back, the solution is simple....just don't pay the last months rent."

Yep, that can happen. That's why it's a good idea to collect first, last, AND security. That's what I do.

I've been a landlord in Massachusetts for over 15 years now. Most prospective tenants are concerned with handing over first months rent and deposits. I don't think it's the concern that they won't get them back, I always get concerns about coming up with that amount of money. I completely understand this, but, if they don't have it now, they certainly won't have it when they've caused damage.

In Massachusetts, tenants must leave the apartment in "broom clean" condition. I could never keep part of a security for painting or cleaning carpets (unless stained by pets, wines, etc), or having to clean bathrooms, kitchens, etc.) Even picture holes in the wall are considered "normal wear and tear".

I have been able to keep security deposits in several cases, but this was granted in court for legal fees as I was evicting the tenants.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2006 at 8:09AM
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I have a question for you as a Massachusetts landlord. I recently moved from my apartment and made every attempt to leave it spotless. However, I just received my security deposit minus $235. During our move, I put a small hole in one of the closet doors (those cheap light wood doors used on the majority of closets). I admitted it and fully expected to have the cost deducted. However, there was also a $15 charge for new hinges, a $75 cleaning charge, and a $50 charge for a screen that blew out of my window during a winter storm.

I feel that the screen is his responsibility and I should be charged no cleaning fee. The only thing that was not immaculate was the fridge. This was the last thing we wnet through, however it was cleaner than we found it (we had food from previous tennants in ours). I'm taking it to court if I am not reimbursed. We were never given documentation on our escrow account and given no receipts of the items we are charged with.

Just wondering what falls under "wear and tear" and if there is a minimum bank interest for the deposit like they have in some states like CT.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 11:48AM
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I've had a number of landlords take "normal wear" type items out of the security deposit when I was renting in Utah. I scrubbed every inch of my apartment, and it was VERY clean, no dirt, stains, damage or anything aside from what you'd expect from living in a place for 2 years or so. They'd do things like say "We had to clean the carpets and repaint and it's our policy to have outside cleaners touch things up and just make sure it's clean for the next tenant." Never an invoice for any of these things. In one case they took the deposit from each tenant living in each of the rooms (rented out by the room in college town). In another case the deposit was like $600.00 and I think they returned maybe $150.00 with the excuse above.

These deposit situations seemed really unreasonable to me, but it just hard to fight, especially if there aren't well known legal standards. Plus in moving and transitions it's hard to have the energy to deal with this crap on top of moving, starting a new job and other factors that often go along with moving. I think these two different landlords both counted on the fact that it's difficult to fight them, that their tenants generally don't have any idea what the laws are (or there are fewer tenant protection laws in places such as Utah), and that tenants will not have the energy to fight them during a life transition, moving and the ensuing chaos. Experiences like these are why some people view landlords suspiciously and may even wonder if it's worth bothering to spend two days cleaning to an immaculate state if the landlord is going to take their security deposit anyway. I certainly wouldn't have bothered to clean (it wasn't extremely dirty to begin with) if I had known the landlord was going to take $450 of our $600 deposit even with deep, and very thorough, cleaning.

I haven't (knock on wood) had these problems in California. I don't know if it's stricter laws, more people ready to sue them if they get jerked around, or just more reasonable landlords.

My previous landlord returned my entire deposit (in CA), and my current landlord told me not to worry about putting nails up to hang decorations and so forth, and that they would patch up the nail holes and paint after I moved out. She seemed to consider it as something that was expected and taken into account rather than a way to try to gouge tenants.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 10:02PM
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Don't know if the original poster is still interested--he sounds like a decent landlord! And I know all too well that so many tenants do a lot of damage to the place. My story happened last year. My dtr. was in a 4 unit converted old house at college in Columbus Ohio--admittedly not a prime piece of real estate but livable for the price, esp. after we cleaned. A new owner came in and began to remodel the other units (2 were already vacant). Normally a good thing, but-- At first it was just construction noise early & late--she talked to the manager & thought it was worked out. Then it was workers coming into the place without notice. Then the water turned off without notice (permanently to the 2nd bath). Then, as they drove new venting through the walls, the 100 years old plaster and dirt fell from the walls and ceiling--dust thickly coated everything and I mean everything, including in closets and cupboards--she finally at this point called me. When I saw the place it was clearly not a livable situation because of the dust and chunks of falling plaster. We informed the owner that she had to move out because of the conditions. He took the position that SHE was breaking the lease, did not give adequate notice, she knew it was not a nice place when she moved in, he was trying to make it better, the workers just walked in because she didn't hear them knock because she was smoking dope (at 7 am???) etc. etc. I ended up calling the city health dept. who were not anxious to get involved--it seems that the new owner is a big wig in the city's real estate & development industry. But they did talk to him and he finally agreed to let her out of the lease (after threatening to take us to court). But he refused to give her back her deposit. We had to throw out most of her food, & wash everything she owned.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 3:51PM
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