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Rentals in the USA: 5 reasons why you should not expect your initial deposit to be returned

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Tenants are usually required to pay a deposit equal to one month (or more) which is returned to them at the end of the lease period…unless any of the things listed here occur

Among the common requirements for a landlord to accept you as a tenant in the United States is the delivery of a security deposit. This deposit is an amount of money stipulated by the landlord, usually equivalent to one month’s rent, although it can be more, and which is used to cover damages to the property and late or unpaid rent. Usually, this amount is returned to the tenant at the end of the rental agreement, however, there are at least 5 reasons why you should not expect that money back.

1. Move out before the end of your lease

A lease represents an obligation between a tenant and a landlord and, like any contract, has specific duration and terms. When the tenant decides to move out before the lease is up, he also forfeits his initial deposit. When you leave early, the landlord must look for a new tenant, so it is very possible that it will take another time to find it and the expenses do not wait, so the deposit serves to offset those costs.

2. Moving out after the end of your lease

When a landlord does not expect to renew the lease, he may give the tenant at least a month’s notice. But not all landlords are considerate, so there are people who leave the rental unit after their lease is up. Even if a few days go by, it is possible that the owner accepts the situation with the slogan of keeping the deposit. It may seem unfair, but when you know your lease is coming to an end, it’s best to have a chat with your landlord to figure out what to do and give yourself time to move.

3. Have pets or children

There are landlords who stipulate in their contract that tenants do not have pets and even children. Even if you discuss it with the owner and he agrees to make an exception, it is most likely that he will hold you responsible for the problems that this could generate in the unit through your advance. Both children and animals may require extra attention so that they do not affect the property, and even then it is almost impossible for you to avoid it.

4. Subleasing the unit without permission

With the high prices of inflation, there are tenants who consider it pertinent to get a roommate or who sublet one of the rooms to spread the rental costs. The problem is that involving a third party in the formula requires the express written permission of the owner. One more member in the unit is synonymous with a higher cost in utility payments, such as hot water, so if the owner accepts the new deal, he will surely recalculate your payments. Without his knowledge, it is reason to forget about your deposit. You could even be fined a higher amount, depending on your contract.

5. Not returning the unit in optimal condition

Even if you do not have children or pets, adjustments in the unit, such as painting a wall a different color than the one that was given to you, can be a reason for you to lose your return deposit, if you do not leave the rent in the conditions in the ones you received. All the more so, if the rental unit shows damage that exceeds normal wear and tear, the landlord could also use your deposit to renew it.


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