Thursday, January 21, 2010

Landlords & Tenants: What You Need to Know About Security Deposits

You are a tenant and you have moved out of the house or apartment you were renting.  Your landlord has assessed damage and wants to deduct them from your security deposit.  You dispute the damage.  What are your rights?

You are a landlord and have had a problem tenant move out, leaving behind a trail of damage.  What are your rights and obligations?

In Missouri, within 30 days of the tenant moving out, a landlord is required to provide the tenant with an itemized list in writing of the damages for which the security deposit is withheld and refund any remaining deposit balance.  This list and any refund should be sent to the last known address of the tenant (note to tenants: this is why it is a good idea to provide your old landlord with your new address).  The list of damages should be based on a walkthrough of the property, and the tenant has a right to receive written notice of the inspection and be present during the inspection.  It is probably a good idea, for both the landlord and tenant, to take pictures of any damage pointed out during the walkthrough, in case of later disputes.

Hopefully the tenant has not left your property in this condition!

Damages a landlord can deduct from a tenant's security deposit include unpaid rent, physical damage to the premises, and damages caused by the tenant terminating the lease early (if applicable).  Damages a landlord may NOT withhold from the deposit include "ordinary wear and tear" of the property.

NOTE: A landlord should be very careful not to deduct more than is reasonably justifiable, because a tenant can recover up to twice of any amount a landlord wrongfully withholds from the deposit.


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