Games Landlords Play

Monday, 29 December 2008 at 3:00 am Pacific USA Time.

I've seen some stinky things happening to tenants lately, and I wanted to give some tips to make sure that anybody who reads this has the upper hand next time!

Having The Right Paperwork

Your security deposit is in case you leave the place in bad condition, right? Well, recently, my heart broke when a friend of mine told me she had given a landlord a security deposit to HOLD the apartment. They were going to work out the lease later. They didn't have any signed paperwork at the time my friend gave this woman a check.

Ten days later, my friend decided to NOT take this apartment, and wanted her security deposit back. My friend was thinking no lease, no apartment she can leave in bad condition, no reason for this woman to keep her money. The woman kept her entire security deposit. An excuse I've heard from landlords I've spoken to is that because they took the apartment off the market, they lost money, and since you didn't end up renting it, they get to keep your money.

To make sure this doesn't happen to you, don't give anybody money without both signing some sort of paperwork. Anything you write in the MEMO area of your check may not be enough. You can create a document that simply says Jim Jones is giving Jane Smith $2000 as security deposit to hold an apartment (write out the address and apartment number). If Jim moves in on (date), Jane will keep this as a fully-refundable security deposit, pursuant to the terms of the lease. If Jim does not move in by (date), he will forfeit $500. Jane will return $1500 by check within one week of Jim letting her know that he will not be taking the apartment.

Expect the landlord to want to keep SOMETHING. But make sure the paperwork says what happens in BOTH situations… both you taking the place and you NOT taking the place.

I'm not a lawyer, so check with your lawyer on this one. But don't give anybody money without proper paperwork on the terms of that relationship!

Tomorrow is part 2 of how to not get taken by your landlord! Stay tuned.

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Categories: That's Bad Marketing

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