Landlord and Tenant Laws on Security Deposits: What to Know

In many parts of the US, specifically in Texas, rental rates are going up and homeowner rates are going down. In fact, in the last decade, 135,639 more people have started to rent units in Austin alone.

In rental situations, tenants and landlords have certain rights regarding security deposits. Usually, a tenant will have to give some money to the property immediately after signing the lease… money that they expect to get back later.

But will the tenant always have the security deposit returned? If you’re a tenant or a landlord, read on to know tenant laws and your rights regarding this common issue.

What Will the Landlord Use Your Deposit For?

When a tenant first signs the lease for the property and puts down a security deposit, there are several things that the property’s owner can use for. One of the most obvious and likely things that they might look into is property repairs.

No matter how well-behaved tenants are, there is bound to be wear and tear to a property. Whether weather damage or dilapidation over time, the money will need to be invested in fixing things.

Security deposits can also be used to add amenities to the property, pay outstanding rent, cover the costs of tenant’s rent default, or clean the rental units before move-in.

When Can Tenants Expect the Deposit Back?

If a tenant has followed all the rules given in the lease, the landlord is required to return the money upon said lease’s termination.

Therefore, often, tenants can expect the return of their security deposit. However, if the rules and conditions of the lease are not followed to the letter, it is well within the rights of the landlord not to give the money back. This is also the case if the lease is signed with different specifications for the use of the deposit.

An obvious case in which the security deposit would not be returned is if of property damage. If a tenant has missed or been late on rent, it is also unlikely that the security deposit will be returned.

Ending the lease early is also grounds for the landlord keeping the security deposit. Basically, the lease must be followed, indisputably and in its entirety, if the landlord will be legally required to return the initial deposit.

What Legal Issues Can Landlords and Tenants Face?

Besides issues with land titles, disputes over security deposits are one of the most common disputes that tenants face. There are a variety of issues that could be disputed, especially when the lease is not as specific as it should have been.

Tenants will often find themselves in a bad position because they did not read the fine print. This is the root of many lawsuits in which the landlord is the plaintiff, and it is also the reason that tenants lose as defendants.

On the flip side, landlords find themselves prone to lawsuits because they have not defined the parameters of behavior that they expect from tenants and they should have.

Reading the fine print is crucial!

Learn More About Tenant Laws

In many cases, the landlord is required to return the security deposit to the tenant. In others, however, it is the landlord’s right to keep the deposit to use for the benefit of the apartment… especially when there is damaged property or financial negligence by the tenant.

Now that you know the basics of tenant laws and security deposits, contact us to learn more about your rights.

Good luck!

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