Landlords will frequently ask us how much they can charge for damage to a house when a tenant moves out, and how long they have before they need to refund all or part of the security deposit. Since those are such popular questions, we are going to discuss security deposits in today’s blog.
We always recommend that homeowners contact their tenants and conduct a move out inspection. If your lease ends on July 31, for example, contact your tenant a few days before that date and schedule an appointment for the last day of the lease. You can walk through the property and inspect it. You’re looking for any damage that will need to be repaired as well as instances of normal wear and tear. We have a separate blog that you’ll want to check out which discusses wear and tear and gives you examples of what you can and cannot charge for.
After you know what you’ll be deducting, go ahead and contact three specialists for estimates. Reach out to a handyman, a contractor and then someone who specializes in the specific work you need. Make sure you can get fast estimates for high quality work. You have 21 calendar days to return the security deposit to the tenant, and that includes weekends. So get your estimates and schedule the work as soon as possible.
Keep all of your receipts. You want receipts of the estimates as well as the final cost of the work that was performed. This will allow you to show the tenant what was required and why that amount was kept out of the security deposit refund. We recommend you use a spreadsheet or a regular Word document to list the costs and provide a final amount that is being returned.
Send the security deposit back to the tenant with copies of the receipts. If a tenant challenges your security deposit amount in court, those receipts will help you document your case. Pictures are a good idea as well, so be sure to take photographs when you are doing the move out inspection.
If you have any questions about how to manage the return of a tenant’s security deposit, please contact us at Reliable Realty Property Management, and we’d be happy to give you more information.