FAQs – Security Deposits And Rental Lease Terminations

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on November 30, 2006 under Rents and Deposits | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Ques. Are there any particular rules for security deposits returns?
Landlords are permitted deductions from tenant security deposits for unpaid rent, or for repairing any tenant caused damages, including cleaning costs, when a tenant moves out without cleaning the place or getting the carpet shampooed. Most of the states require a written itemized account of deductions for unpaid rent, damage repairs, and necessary cleaning exceeding normal wear and tear, together with any payment made for the security deposit balance.

There are varying deadlines state to state, however, as a rule, landlords are allowed a set time limit to return deposits, usually 14 to 30-days after the tenant moves out, either voluntarily or has been evicted.

Ques. What is outcome of a tenant breaking his / her rental lease?
The general rule is that a rental lease binds the tenant for its duration, unless and until the landlord breaks the law or violates the terms of the lease, such as, failing to make necessary repairs, or not complying with an important lease clause. Certain states have laws in place that allow tenants to break a lease due to health problems or job relocations requiring a permanent move. As well, federal laws, including many similar state laws allow tenants entering active military service, or related government positions to terminate rental leases early, with impunity.

A tenant breaking a lease without reasonable cause is held responsible for the rent due under the remaining lease term. Most states, rather than charging lease breaking tenants with payment of total rent remaining under the lease, require the landlord to make all reasonable efforts to find a new tenant, regardless of the tenant’s reason for leaving.

Ques. When is it considered legal for a landlord to terminate the lease and end the tenancy?
When a landlord terminates a lease due to significant violation of lease terms by a tenant, he / she is within the rule of the law to do so. If, a tenant keeps a dog or a cat in violation of his / her rental lease that contains a no pets clause, a landlord is within his / her rights to legally terminate the lease. As well, the landlord can legally break the tenant’s lease, if the latter is a habitual late rent payer, or does not pay rent at all, or substantially damages the rental property, or engages in illegal activities on or near the premises e.g. sells drugs, etc.

Before breaking the lease, the landlord is required to notify the tenant in writing that his / her tenancy has been terminated. There are detailed state law requirements regarding how a landlord must write and deliver (serve) a termination notice. The termination notice should clearly state why the tenancy is being terminated and warn the tenant the premises must be vacated; otherwise he / she will have to face an eviction lawsuit. Or, the notice may warn the tenant that to rectify the lease violations i.e. pay the rent, or remove the pet.

If, the problem is fixed or the tenant moves out, there is not need to sue. Non-compliance with the termination notice is when a landlord can go ahead and file a lawsuit for evicting the tenant.

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