HOW TO AVOID A DISPUTE: When signing a lease, be very clear as to when the rent is due and how many days, if any, you will allow as a grace period. This information should appear in the lease and also be discussed verbally so that there is no mistake as to your requirements or the penalties for late or unpaid rent. Confirm that the tenant completely understands these terms. Of course, an unexpected financial issue or an emergency may temporarily make it difficult for a tenant to pay on time or in full. Be understanding, but do not allow a tenant to take advantage of your kindness and work out a rent repayment plan they can sign off on.
2. SECURITY DEPOSITS Two major issues between the landlord and tenant concern the security deposit. They center around the landlord not returning the deposit in a timely manner at the end of the lease or the tenant receiving only a portion of the deposit when they feel they should receive the entire amount. Disputes about the return of security deposits almost always center around the subject of damages and to a lesser degree, unpaid rent. In the past, tenants paid the first and last months’ rent when they signed a rental agreement and
that payment doubled as a security deposit. These days, a separate amount, usually equal to one- or two-months’ rent, is paid as a security deposit and is held in a special account. Many municipalities require the landlord to deposit the money in an interest-bearing account with the interest paid to the tenant when they move out. Since laws regarding these deposits vary greatly by state, be very sure of the regulations where your property is located. Here are some examples:
A landlord can only legally hold two months’ rent as a security deposit and three months for a furnished rental property.
You can ask for two months' rent but for tenants 62 years of age or older, only one month.
Allows one month for leases with a term of one year or more.
And in some states, there are no limits as to how much a landlord may require as a security deposit (or a pet fee) as long as it is clearly stated in the lease agreement.
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