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Understanding when a landlord can keep a security deposit

On Behalf of | Aug 20, 2019 | Landlord-tenant Law

Being a rental property owner in Saint Charles offers many benefits, the chief of which is the added funds that it can contribute to one’s monthly income. Those who own such properties should also not have that difficult of a time finding tenants; according to information gathered by the Pew Research Center, 36.6 percent of U.S. households were headed by renters in 2016. Of course, renting to a tenant also brings with it the stress of whether or not they will take care of a property (and not do anything that might diminish its value). A landlord’s security against this is the security deposit. 

Typically, landlords will require an amount be provided by renters as an up-front deposit to guard against any damage happening to a property (this amount will often equal the first and last month’s rent payments). If the tenant takes good care of the property, those funds are returned to them once their lease agreement expires and they leave. Yet if something does happen during their time there, the landlord can use that deposit to cover the cost of the damages. 

Along with damage to the property, there are other reasons why a landlord might be authorized to use (or keep) a renter’s security deposit. Per the website, these include: 

  • A tenant choosing to terminate their lease before its official expiration date
  • A tenant leaving unpaid utility bills
  • Extensive cleanup of the property being required upon a renter’s exit
  • A renter missing rent payments during the term of their lease

In the event of required repairs and cleanup, a landlord might also hold a tenant financially responsible if the costs to address them exceed the renter’s security deposit.