After your Atlanta tenant moves out and you begin thinking about your plans to re-rent the property, you’ll need to deal with the departing tenant’s security deposit.
There are a set of laws that govern how quickly you have to give the deposit back and what you’re allowed to deduct for (and not deduct for). Today, we’re staying focused on what you can charge from a security deposit after your tenant has moved out and you’re conducting an inspection and managing the accounting.
Deducting for Unpaid Atlanta Rent
You can use the security deposit to pay for any overdue or unpaid rent. In fact, this is one of the reasons you collect a security deposit. To protect yourself from unpaid rent.
Several different scenarios could leave you with rent that hasn’t been paid:
Maybe there was a partial payment made one month.
Maybe your tenant missed a payment and then never really got caught up.
Or, your tenant could have avoided paying the last month of rent, expecting you to use the security deposit instead. This should never be allowed (your lease should have language prohibited it), but your tenant likely knows you won’t pursue eviction in the last month of their residency.
The security deposit can be used to bring the account current after the tenant leaves.
Deduct for Cleaning Charges
You can expect your tenants to return a property that’s clean.
If the tenants move out and you find that there’s trash left behind or not everything has been moved out, you will have to pay to have all of those belongings and garbage hauled out during the turnover process. The security deposit can also cover any cleaning costs that should have been your tenant’s responsibility.
When you receive your tenant’s notice to vacate, send specific cleaning instructions so your tenants are aware of what the lease requires in terms of cleanliness if they want to receive their full deposit back.
Charging for Atlanta Rental Property Damage
After your tenant turns in the keys and you have possession, go into the property and conduct a thorough inspection. Hopefully, you did this before your tenant moved in. The idea is to document the condition of the home and to compare it to how the property looks after the tenant moves out. You should have provided a copy of your move-in inspection report to the tenant before handing over the keys so the tenant was aware of any pre-existing damage in the home.
Some of what you find during your move-out inspection will be wear and tear. You cannot deduct these costs from your tenant’s security deposit. Wear and tear includes the minor issues that result from any habitation. You’d leave the same things behind if you were living in the house.
Examples of wear and tear include tiny nail holes in the walls from where pictures were hung and scuff marks from where furniture was moved against the wall. If you need to repaint to cover these, you cannot charge that to the tenant.
Damage is a little different and it’s clearly due to the tenant’s neglect or abuse. Broken appliances, cracked windows, holes in the walls, scrapes and tears on the floor are all examples of damage. You can use the security deposit to pay for these things.
Security deposits can be tricky, but if the condition of your property is well-documented and expectations are shared ahead of time, you should have no trouble deciding how much your tenant is entitled to get back. Remember to return the deposit and/or an itemized statement of deductions within one month of your tenant moving out.
If you have any questions about what to deduct from a security deposit, contact us at Property Services of Atlanta. We can help you avoid costly mistakes.