At the end of your lease, it is our goal to finish our landlord/tenant relationship well. We sincerely want you to have success and to be able to fully refund your security deposit. Here is how you can do so!

To receive your entire security deposit back, you must comply with every provision of your lease agreement AND return the property back at the end of the lease in the condition expected under the terms of the lease. That means very little work would need to be done for the landlord to lease the property to the next tenant.

The most important items you need to comply with are (1) pay all of the rent in full through the end of your lease and until you turn your keys in the final time; (2) give a proper written notice with a signature; and (3) return the property to the condition at your move-in. Also, don’t forget to give us a forwarding address on your proper written notice.

At move out, please return all keys to the office during business hours or in the drop box after hours. When you drop off your keys, please make sure they are clearly labeled with your address. All of your furniture, belongings and personal items must be removed from the home before you turn in the keys. You may not stay in the home after the keys are returned for any reason. You will be not be allowed back in the rental to do additional cleaning unless the property manager agrees to do so.

Shortly after your move-out, the residence will be inspected. The refund of your deposit is contingent on satisfactory completion of the inspection and condition of the property. Any and all tenant related damage and/or repair which was not specifically noted on your move-in checklist must be corrected before you move out or the cost of the repair will be charged out of your security deposit.

All personal items left behind will be destroyed, donated to charity or disposed of. They will not be stored. You will be charged for any time required to remove the items and any disposal fee.

What is *Proper Notice*?

Proper notice means you provide a written letter (not e-mail) with a signature stating: a) The date you intend to surrender the property. Surrender means turning in all keys and other access devices (garage door remotes); b) The names of the tenants on your lease; and c) The address of the property.

If there is no date of when you will surrender the property we do not have proper notice.

What if I want to leave before my lease is up?

You are required to pay for the full term of the lease even if you leave early. A lease is a binding legal contract with ramifications for both parties if it is breached. Please read your lease for any exceptions. Also note that any specific requirements of the exceptions may change as the laws change, but the exceptions are generally:

a) A military change of station orders, in which case there are specific obligations of the military personnel. You must present the change orders to your landlord or landlord’s representative and you must provide notice before the next rent is due. The orders must be original and detailed as provided from your commanding officer. If you provide the proper documentation you can be released from part of your obligations for rent, which we will discuss with you individually upon presentation of the orders.

b) We negotiate a change to the end date of your lease, usually in exchange for a specific amount of money. Since this is based on specific circumstances and will be negotiated with the owner of the property, we encourage you to “make an offer.” Remember your legal obligations.

If you do not qualify under these exceptions then expect to pay the full term of your lease and all other obligations including utilities, lawn care, re-letting fees, other maintenance expenses or any other obligations in your lease. All outstanding balances are reported to collections and the credit bureaus and you may be liable for all expenses related to collecting any past due debts.

The most common deductions from security deposits are?

When you rent a home, you are responsible for me than just paying the rent. If you fail to meet your other obligations under the lease and the landlord has to pay to do something you should have done, they can hold you responsible.

The landlord cannot charge you for expenses related to “normal wear and tear”. The internet is full of definitions for this term. A general rule of thumb is to measure (a) what was the intended use of the item? and (b) what is its normal lifespan. Using this rule of thumb you can determine if the item was just “worn out” or was damaged by misuse, overuse, accident, abuse or neglect. For example, the normal life of a counter top in a home is indefinite if it is cared for. So if the countertop has burn marks from a hot pot being placed on it, it is not being used as intended, is damaged and the tenant would be responsible for replacement of the countertop. Normal wear would be if the countertop was showing signs of wearing through next to the sink or a commonly used area. Replacement would then not be a tenant damage. This responsibility is the tenants even not caused by the tenant, but during their occupancy; this is the difference between fault and responsibility.

The most common deductions from security deposits are for:

1) Lawn care. You are responsible for more than cutting the lawn and edging. You must maintain the yard and landscaping. You must treat the lawn with fertilizer, and if necessary weed killer, you must maintain flower beds in a weed free manner and maintain an adequate level of mulch or pine needles. If the yard is not properly maintained then any expense the landlord incurs to fix this negligence may be charged back to the tenant. If you do what is required in the lease a better looking, more mature lawn is the result.

2) Cleaning. Your lease requires you to keep the house clean and to leave it clean. If it is not left clean then the landlord will hire someone to finish the cleaning and the expense will be assessed back to your account. Unless you had extraordinary circumstances the carpets were cleaned prior to your move in. The carpet was either done by the previous tenants or done by the landlord and the expense charged back to the previous tenant. We can refer you to cleaning companies for your house and carpets which have had great success in addressing all of the cleaning items we will require to be addressed, including stubborn stains and “hard to reach” areas.

3) Touch up paint. This can be the most painful. If a tenant touches up and uses the wrong type or color of paint the cost to repair can be more than if just left alone. If you are not 100% confident in your ability to provide a proper touch up job, then you should hire the work done by a professional who will guarantee their work or let the landlord hire their own painter and let the expense be paid from your account. Anything more than a couple of small nail holes per wall is not considered normal use or normal wear and tear. Children drawing on walls is not normal wear and tear. Grease on walls, handprints on walls or painting any colors on walls are not considered normal use and may require special (expensive) treatment to repair. Damage to the walls from moving your furnishings in or out of the house is not considered normal wear and tear. However, please note that a landlord has an expectation of periodic painting, so if you live at a home for five years, and paint but no repair is required when you leave the landlord must depreciate the expense and can only assess their tenant a smaller amount of the expense they incur.

4) Missing garage door remotes, mismatching light bulbs or missing smoke detector batteries seem minor but can amount to a larger cost than you might expect! If a garage door remote is missing then the landlord has to pay someone to deliver and program a new remote. A $50.00 remote ends up costing a minimum of $125.00 by the time you reimburse the landlord for the service call by a garage door company.

Remember your obligations are to reimburse the landlord for the damages they suffer and damages are generally any bills the landlord pays to make things right.

The landlord has no incentive to “keep” your deposit. First of all it is generally illegal for a landlord to keep your deposit if you leave with rent paid in full, the home is in the same condition as when you moved in, you have provided proper notice at the end of your lease and you have provided a forwarding address. The landlord can only use your deposit to repay for damages suffered. Thus, the landlord can only be reimbursed for any costs they actually incur to fix the damage or make them whole from damage done to the property. Only “benefit” is to the repair company for the work performed.

Rinehart Property Management has NO incentive to “keep” a deposit?

Rinehart Property Management does not get to keep any tenant’s deposit. The lease is between RPM as agent for the owner of the home and you and any deductions are to reimburse the owner of the home. RPM does not own any of the assets we manage. We provide a service to property owners. We hold the security deposit in a trust account so it is available to be repaid to you or to reimburse the owner for unfulfilled lease obligations after you leave the property. We take our legal obligation to be fair to you very seriously.

What is the move-out inspection?

A personal physical inspection of the property is performed after you vacate the property and all necessary documentary photograph’s are taken to complete the records. We compare our inspection to the move-in checklist and last inspection on the property. All make ready expenses are reviewed to determine if they qualify for reimbursement.

Tenants are not permitted to be present at the inspection. We maintain this policy due to scheduling constraints, and more importantly in order to protect our employees. Unfortunately, while most of our tenants are nice and calm while someone goes through the home and takes photograph’s not everyone is even tempered. In fairness to all, we follow the same policy every time. If you are concerned about having proper documentation then you need to make your own records of the property condition at move out before you surrender the keys. The inspection is normally completed within three business days of the time you surrender the property.

Timing of returned security deposits?

We provide a written accounting of the deposit and any monies owed within thirty days after you surrender the property. Many times the release of deposit occurs prior to that time, but if work has to be performed, it may take longer. The commitment is to send this information in the mail no later than 30 days after you leave, so you may not actually receive it for a few more days after this. If you have assessments which exceed your deposit you will receive a statement and bill for the amount you owe, if this happens please pay promptly in order to avoid credit bureau notification and collections procedures and expenses.

If you disagree with the accounting or bills paid, you have the right to notify us with all documentation you have to dispute the charges. We will review the documentation and respond. Please note, just because you don’t want to pay to repair the damage is not sufficient documentation. You should keep documentation of the condition so we can discuss any questions and both have sufficient information for a reasonable discussion. This may take some time, so please be patient. Also, please provide good contact information for us to communicate.

Please also remember that mistakes can happen and are unintentional. If we find one through your information and verification, we can correct and make you whole. Documentation, including paid bills for cleaning and pictures are excellent and we welcome that support for your position.

We want to make sure you get your deposit back

Working with a tenant that fulfills the lease and leaves the property in pristine condition is a pleasure and makes both our lives and yours easier. We have a wonderful and caring staff that wants to serve you and enjoys having a great tenant relationship.

Besides wanting to do the “right thing” for you, we are legally responsible to watch out for the landlord’s property. Even if a landlord is totally reimbursed for any expenses from a security deposit, it is more difficult to locate a new tenant when a house does not look it’s best. This disadvantages the owner and overall discourages landlords from offering houses for rent, making all rentals more costly for all of us. A “bad tenant (or landlord)” can ruin it for a lot of people so we do our best to educate everyone in an effort to make a change in tenancy as smooth as possible.

Some of our happier moments in the day are when we get to call an owner and explain that their tenant fulfilled their lease, moved out and left the place ready for the next person with no additional work! This also means I get to call the tenant and say thank you for taking such good care of the home and look for a check in the mail for their full refund of deposit! Finally, this also means we have less work in solving disputes and we can focus on solving real problems like getting repairs done faster or better.