Rental Property Deposits
So you are out looking for your new home; you are “apartment hunting”. You are working with a great real estate associate who is showing you exactly what it is that you are looking for and you have a couple of great choices to pick from and are ready to make that much anticipated offer. Yo
u sit down to sign the offer which your agent has prepared for you and as they explain; you are hit with the harsh reality that you will need to come up with THREE MONTH”S rent to move in. WOW, that is a lot of money for a rental. So why is it that landlord’s require so much money; I mean after all you have great rental history, great credit, your income can easily afford the rent and you have no criminal record. Shouldn’t you be able to move in with just first month’s rent and the security deposit. The reality is that the answer to this question under these circumstances is probably “YES”; you should be able to move in with just first and security, you should be rewarded for having good rental history and good credit. In most instances both landlord and tenant would agree to this arrangement. However there are other scenarios more often than not that dictate differently. I would like to discuss the main issues which would prohibit a landlord from accepted the first month and security alone.
1. Many condo boards require a common area deposit equivalent to one month’s rent, or sometimes a predetermined amount. Therefore if the owner accepts the tenant with first month and security and the condo board gets the security then the owner has no deposit for damages on their property beyond regular wear and tear; the landlord would be exposing themselves to potential loses.
2. Many condo boards have what we refer to as rental restrictions. Sometimes these restrictions can cause issues with deposits. For example; a common restriction is that a unit owner may only rent the unit once per year. Sounds great to most owners especially those that occupy their units as primary residences; “Hey, we wont have that transient atmosphere of people constantly moving in and out”. But now look at it from the point of view of an owner who is renting out their unit. “If I rent this property out to this particular tenant and they stay for only 6 months or for that matter any period of time for less than the 12 month lease; in other words if the tenant breaks the lease I am stuck with an empty apartments with no income”. The landlord still has to pay the mortgage (if any), condo maintenance fees and taxes. Therefore, the owner who has such a restriction enforced by his association will be less likely to lower the move in requirements because they would prefer to guarantee the tenants lease performance for the entire term and this way if the tenant does break the lease the landlord can at least keep two month’s rental equivalent and still have the option to seek damages for the remainder of the lease term.
3. The landlord has simply had a bad experience before and is unwilling to take the risk again. Yes, this may seem unfair, as it seems like future tenants pay for the shortfalls of past tenants but it is the reality and a business decision that the landlord ultimately has to make.
In short, although there may be other reasons for the three months move in requirements these will typically represent the main reasons.
However, I will provide a warning for tenants; watch out for those landlords in foreclosure that are just looking to keep your deposits and collect rent until they get foreclosed. So how do you protect yourself. Well, first of all ask your agent to look up any Lis Pen dens against the property, try to find out if the owner is already in default. Also, if you are looking at a two bedroom with a direct ocean view in a full amenity building and the unit has granite counter, marble throughout and a jacuzzi in the master and the owner is asking only 1300 monthly, it may just be too good to be true. Scroll down to read blog on landlord / tenant laws on foreclosure.