Before you start renting out property in Woodinville, you have to create a deposit policy for your landlord tenant agreement. The security deposit is important for ensuring that the tenant takes good care of your property while in it, and that you have a way to protect yourself for some of the damages if they damage your unit. The following include a few basic tips from a local Woodinville property management company on what to consider when creating your deposit policy.
Amount of the Security Deposit
Most landlords choose to set the security deposit at one full month’s rent, which most tenants assume to be reasonable. Depending on the value of the unit, and any amenities, you may want to charge more or less for the security deposit. Usually you should charge no less than half of the month’s rent.
Using the Deposit Towards Rent
Many landlords insert a deposit clause that any remaining amount of the deposit will go towards the 18th month of rent. Some landlords also choose to save it until the end of the tenancy, after which time, it is refunded to the tenant.
Using the Deposit Towards Repairing Damage
In the case of tenant caused damage beyond normal wear and tear, it is possible to use the security deposit towards repairing the damage. You have a total of 15 days after the tenant moves out to file an arbitrary claim against the deposit for repairs or money owed, before you forfeit your right to it.
Keeping the Deposit
You may write into your contract that you retain all or part of the deposit after the end of the lease. However, it is important that the tenant sees this, as it is not a normal clause. If the clause is not in the rental agreement, the client has not caused damage, and you have not filed a claim against the deposit within 15 days, but keep it anyway, then you may be legally obliged to pay the tenant twice the original deposit plus interest on the original security.
In Case the Tenant Leaves
If the tenant leaves or otherwise terminates their lease before the end of the contract then you may write in that you will keep the contract.
Refunding the Deposit
Should the tenant leave legally and leave the unit in good condition, then it may be necessary to refund them the entire deposit. Washington state law allows you up to 21 days to forward the amount of the original deposit plus any interest accrued.
Storing the Deposit During Tenancy
You are legally required to store tenant security deposits in a separate, interest accruing bank account for the entire period. Essentially, the money belongs to the tenant and you are entrusted with its care for the duration of the tenancy. You are also responsible for keeping track of accrued interest to give back to the tenants.
If the idea of setting up a deposit policy sounds intimidating, don’t worry, you don’t have to do it your own. Hiring a Woodinville property management company with a professional real estate lawyer ensures that your policy is legal, well thought out, and as advantageous to you as possible.
The discussion herein is of a general nature only and is not to be construed as specific legal advice, which requires the establishment of an attorney-client relationship and fee agreement. SJA Property Management does not provide legal services.