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The Purpose of Rent Deposits

Anyone who’s rent an apartment knows that there is a little additional fee you have to pay up front, beside the rent – rent deposits. So what is a rent deposit, and how do both sides benefit from them? As deposits, this is money that your landlord keeps in a safe place, only to be used in case of damage and worst-case scenarios. But you will notice that there are other fees also hidden as “deposits” that are not deposits per se. And when can you retrieve your deposit? Are there situations where the money is lost to the renter for good?

Security Deposits

A sum is agreed upon by the landlord, and it is used to cover any physical damage that may happen to the rented property while the occupant is staying there. While the occupant is renting, the landlord is legally refrained from spending this money. Most countries demand that security deposits are held in special accounts, kept safely out of the way until the tenant moves out, and the landlord checks the property for damage. No damage means that the money is returned in its entirety – hence all the safekeeping. However, if there are damages, the landlord takes as much money out of the deposit as it takes to repair them. Modern tenants and landlords can make things easier by using an online rent deposit service, with which it is easier to track the state of the deposit.

A Rent Deposit is Not Rent.

You cannot substitute a monthly rent with deposit money. The purpose of your deposit is not to cover the rent, it is for damage repairs strictly. To prevent bad situations, make sure you will be able to afford the property for months to come – it is wise to stick to places where the bills and rent add up to no more than a third of your salary.

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Additional Deposits

Are all rent deposits the same as security deposits? Many “deposits” actually aren’t deposits, but fees. Some landlords require a pet deposit, from their pet-owning tenants. However, these are simply fees, and they are not refundable. Some states have laws regulating fees and deposits, and in some states the distinction can get a little shady. There are also state approved limits as to how high a rent deposit can actually be. It is very important that tenants look up the local tenant-landlord laws before they agree to any property.

Rent Deposit Retrieval

The rent deposit is paid back in its entirety to tenants who left the property in the same state they entered it. If damages occurred, but not all of the deposit was used up to pay for them, the tenant is paid back whatever is left. If the damages exceed the amount of the deposit, the landlord is entitled to charge the tenant additionally, or sue if necessary. For this reason, it is wise for tenants to take photos of the property once they enter it, and retake the same photos before leaving it.

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