One common mistake many landlords make is not learning enough about security deposits. We often think that the process goes like this: name a price suitable to cover potential damages, include the price agreement in the lease, and have the tenant sign the lease and pay the deposit. Once the tenant's lease has ended, assess damages to the property, decide what amount is needed to cover damage expenses, and refund remaining amount to the tenant. The problem in this process lies in the damage withholdings. Many states require landlords to itemize the amounts withheld and do so in a specific timeframe. In these states, any amount of money retained in poor judgment by the landlord can result in penalties against the landlord. Here are a few tips to help landlords with security deposits.

Security Deposit Tip #1:
It is common for a landlord to keep an entire security deposit when a tenant breaks their lease. A landlord feels that it is justifiable to keep the deposit since the tenant did not fulfill the lease agreement. In many cases, this is illegal. A landlord is often required to make multiple attempts at re-renting the property to a new tenant. If the landlord is successful in the attempt to find a new tenant, a pro-rated amount based on the time that has passed should be reimbursed to the tenant who broke his or her lease.

Security Deposit Tip #2:
Any landlord should consider a partially deferred security deposit. A deferred security deposit simply means that a renter is given the option to pay their security deposit in installments over an established timeframe. Typically, the deposit would be collected in three to six monthly payments of the same amount each month. A partially deferred security deposit makes most sense when you have a potential tenant with good credit that lacks the finances to pay a full deposit up front. This can also help the landlord collect a higher deposit by allowing a tenant the freedom to pay in installments.

Security Deposit Tip #3:
A landlord must understand the tenant-landlord laws specific to his or her state. These laws provide clarity pertaining to the rental and residential dwellings and the rights and obligations of the tenant and landlord. These laws will cover maintenance requirements, landlord security deposits, and occupancy and access guidelines. It is in a landlord's interest and protection to know these laws, but they are often difficult to understand. To assist a landlord in comprehending the laws, it is beneficial to find a real estate attorney that is familiar with tenant-landlord laws in your state.

Landlord Security Deposit Tip #4:
Make certain you understand the complexity of the laws pertaining to the following:

• Whether or not the tenant accumulates any interest income on security deposits preserved by the landlord
• Any limitations on amounts that can be charged as a security deposit
• Whether or not a landlord is required to keep security deposits in a trust account until funds are returned to the tenant

It is the best practice to always choose a tenant that you believe will care for your property. It reduces the hassle when your property has limited or no damages and most or all of the tenant security deposit can be returned to the tenant. By processing a tenant screening with Tenant Background Search, you will learn the history of the tenant you are choosing and will have the comfort of knowing you have chosen someone who will be responsible with your property.