All about rent deposits

home-589068_960_720Renting is a great way to put a roof over your head without too much cash. However, landlords have usually been portrayed as terrifying figures in most movies and shows. The reality is that you can come across reasonable landlords just as easily as you can come across difficult ones. The best way to arrange matters before you get too personal in each other’s space (literally), is to solve the rent deposit (which is also obligatory by law in some places).

The landlord will often ask for more than one month’s rent when you just move in. This is usually just the security deposit, a deal sealed in cash that you won’t wreck the place up. So what does this rent deposit usually cover?

Any potential damage made to the property during your stay there will be covered with your rent deposit (unless, heavens forbid, it gets too expensive to cover). The landlord is not given this money for their own keeping. This is the renter providing the landlord with the funds to repair any damage that might occur during their stay. Should there be no damage made – the renter is entitled to the entire sum back, at the end of their stay. The rent deposit is mutually agreed between the two, though there are some locally conditioned expectations in every city. The manner of payment has changed, however – should it work for both parties, a rent deposit can be paid online, making it easier to keep the money secure should a need to spend it occur.

There are other kinds of deposits as well. A pet deposit is rarely refundable. It is a fee the landlord might want up front should you be bringing a pet with you. This does not cover damages the pet might make to the property. Fees like this are not actual deposits (defined by their refundable nature), but payments made directly to the landlord. Like a more expensive first monthly rent. In some places the law regulates these fees, in others it’s a wild west scenario.

It is difficult to abuse a rent deposit. Renters are entitled to the entire amount of money back when they leave the premises, or if there have been some repairs, they are entitled to any money still remaining (so hang on to your bills). Landlords cannot accept a rent deposit as a monthly rent, so don’t even try it. Find a place you know you’ll always be able to afford (ideally, a third of your salary should go to housing – rent and bills, and no more).

When a renter leaves the premises, it is a common practice to take photos of the whole place, which can then be matched to the same photos taken back when you first moved in. This is to prove that no damages have been made, and that the rent deposit should be returned in its entirety. Otherwise, it’s a record of any repairs the landlord will have to cash out on, and they will use the deposit to do so. If there is more damage than the money can cover, the landlord has the right to bill their tenant, and ultimately sue them.

Whatever you do, before you rent, look up a renter’s legal obligations, as well as a landlord’s legal obligations. Most renting practices never made it into an actual law, which makes a lot of room for misdemeanors and petty thefts. Know your rights, whether you are a renter or a landlord, and know how to get help if you feel the other side is making your arrangement difficult. Renters, a final word of warning – if you have more than one deposit to pay when you move in, be wary of fees purposefully mislabeled as “deposits”.