Landlords often take security deposits when someone signs a new lease. You’ve probably heard people complain that landlords will try to keep these for reasons that are not valid. And, while that certainly does happen in some situations, it’s also important to note that there are definitely some very valid reasons why a landlord will keep a security deposit. It was put in place for a reason, after all, and it helps to protect the landlord’s investment in that property.
So what are some reasons that a landlord can keep a security deposit? Let’s look at a few examples below.
The tenant breaks the lease
In some cases, a tenant will break the lease by leaving before it’s up, and they will not pay the remaining months. In a case like this, the security deposit helps to cover some of the cost for the landlord while they look for a new tenant to be in the space. The security deposit can also be kept in many other situations where a tenant refuses to pay rent that is due.
There is significant damage to the space
Most of the time, the reasons that landlords will cite for keeping a security deposit revolve around damage to the building. When this damage is worse than the normal wear and tear that you would expect, it can be expensive to fix, and the security deposit helps to pay for that. For example, scuffs on the baseboards or scratches in the floor from moving furniture around are just normal wear and tear. But a banister on the stairway that has been completely removed or floorboards or tiles that have broken go beyond the damage that a reasonable landlord would expect.
In some cases, landlords and tenants will disagree about whether or not the security deposit can be kept. This is when it’s important for both sides to understand their legal options.