Financial Literacy for Everyone

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Landlords may require you to pay a security deposit to cover any unpaid rent or damages. This money must be refunded within 30 days of the end of the rental agreement. The landlord, however, may deduct the cost of any repairs needed, other than maintenance to address normal wear and tear. It is wise to document existing damage before you move in, so you do not end up taking financial responsibility for damage you didn’t create. Any charges deducted from the security deposit must be listed separately and sent with the remainder of the deposit. If you disagree with the deductions or you do not receive the security deposit, you may sue your landlord. A landlord can require any amount for a security deposit. A few states require the landlord to pay you interest on your deposit.

buying a home

Problem Solving
If your landlord is not living up to his or her legal responsibilities or a government agency confirms a health or safety violation on site, you have several available courses of action. You can sue the landlord for monetary damages or force the landlord to make the required repairs. Send a notice to the same address where you send your rent checks; the landlord is required to make the repairs within 30 days.

If the landlord fails to make these changes, don't stop paying rent. Here are some steps you can take that could stop the landlord from collecting your rent:

  • Instead of mailing the rent, take the rent check to the clerk of courts. The clerk of courts will hold this money until the repairs are made. You still need to stay current on rent payments.
  • Ask the court to legally force the landlord to make the repairs. In addition to ordering the repairs, the court may also decrease the rent for the period the repairs are not made.
  • Simply move out of the apartment. You still must give proper notice of your move as agreed upon in your signed lease.

Eviction
Eviction is a worst-case scenario and not the desired result of your rental situation. But if you don't pay your rent, don't live up to your part of the lease agreement, or refuse to leave at the end of the lease time period, your landlord has the right to evict you. The landlord must serve you with a written eviction notice. After a few days, the landlord can file that eviction notice in court. If the landlord wins his or her suit for eviction and you still don't vacate, the landlord can ask a local law enforcement officer to remove you from the apartment. Consider consulting professional legal counsel to advise you on the laws regarding eviction in your state.

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