Security Deposits

Times are tough right now.  If your rent is $900/month, asking $900 security deposit may seem like a lot.  And it is.

Deposits are tough.  Quite often I get asked this question:  “Can you work with me on the deposit?  Can I give you half of it now and the other half next month?”  I’ve agreed to that proposal many times in the past, years ago.  And I got burned every time.  EVERY time!

So I had to toughen up and decide that no one would move in unless the security deposit was in my pocket.  All of it, up front.  And sometimes that means having your tenant pay the deposit one week, and moving in two weeks later, when they have the rent payment for the month.  And that’s okay.

What I’ve learned is that you can’t trust that people will come up with the rest of the deposit money after they’ve moved in.  It’s sooo frustrating to chase people for money, and it’s not good to start out that way.  I don’t let people move in until they’ve paid their full security deposit and rent.

Also, I let them know that if they pay the deposit and don’t end up moving in, they lose their deposit money.  (This should be in writing, as part of the application.)  After all, I’ve held the house for those people, taken it off the market, counting on them moving in.  If it doesn’t happen, I’m keeping that deposit money for sure!

It took me several years to learn this.  I’m a trusting person, always believing the best in people.  But I learned — the hard way — that the best doesn’t always happen.  So when I agree to rent a place to someone and I take it off the market, I protect myself.  You should too.

Think the best, but protect yourself too . . . Get all of the security deposit up front, and all of the rent before move-in.  And if someone gives you the deposit and bails on you, pocket the money and start over.  Someone more reliable will come along, and you will have the deposit money to make up for the time and effort you spent.

Live and learn, right?

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