Last week, we talked about security deposits from a tenant’s perspective. Today, we are sharing Part Two of our blog on security deposits. This is information from the landlord’s perspective, so we’re talking about what a landlord needs to know and do.
First, you need to know the Texas Property Code and the rules for returning a security deposit. Landlords really only want two things at the end of the lease. They would like all the obligations to be fulfilled and they would like the property to be returned in the condition it was when the tenant moved in, minus minor wear and tear. The number one reason for disputes and civil suits is the security deposit.
Landlords want to make sure they review all the sections of the lease agreement with the prospective tenant. Make sure they understand the security deposit section and be certain they know what can be deducted from the deposit at the end of the lease, and what’s above normal wear and tear.
Tenants also need to know that they cannot apply their security deposit to their last months rent. Different laws and rules regulate rent versus security deposits. Also, let them know most leases require a 30 day notice of vacating. If they don’t provide this notice, the landlord is not obligated to refund the security deposit or any portion of it.
Move in and Move Out Inspections
Protect your property. One of the best things you can do is to take pictures and videos of the property prior to the tenant moving in. If you’re in civil court, pictures and videos are great evidence. It’s also a good idea when you get the 30 day notice, to send a move out letter to your tenant. List the things that can be disputed at the end of the lease and make the tenant aware of your expectations and what you want the property to look like. Be specific. Talk about cleaning floors and bathrooms and appliances. Explain the inspection procedure. Schedule a time to walk the property with the tenants and see if they want to repair things themselves rather than having you make deductions from the security deposit.
You may need to explain the difference between worn carpet and a carpet with a stain. Finally, remind the tenants that they need to return keys and electronic access devices and provide you with a forwarding address. Then, you have 30 days to return the deposit with itemized list of any deductions for repairs above and beyond wear and tear.
If you have any questions about how to handle your tenant’s security deposit, please contact us at DeGuire Paperless Property Management and we’d be happy to help you.