A typical real estate lease agreement has several sections, but one of the most controversial sections is that of security deposits. Here are some of the issues you should confirm are addressed in the security deposit section of your lease when you're looking to rent apartments:
Dollar Amount of the Deposit
It's necessary to quote the exact dollar amount of the security deposit. The landlord shouldn't tell you that the deposit should be "enough to repair the house in case of damages or a certain percentage of the value of the house." Those kinds of approximations can be confusing and contentious when you fail to agree on the exact amounts they represent. Don't forget that state laws determine the maximum security deposits landlords can ask, so the landlord shouldn't request more than that.
How the Deposit Is To Be Used
This is another thing that needs to be clarified to avoid future disputes. You don't want the landlord using the deposit for an expense you are clearly convinced is not of your own making. In most cases, security deposits are meant for damage repairs or for owed rent. Without a clarification on the issue, the landlord can even try to use the deposit to upgrade some of their home fixtures or take care of issues related to normal wear and tear.
How the Deposit Is To Be Refunded
Security deposit refunds tend to be very controversial, especially from the point of view of tenants. Some of these controversies can be reduced if tenants could take their time to confirm that their lease documents handle the issue adequately. The lease should clearly state when the deposit is to be refunded and how it will be refunded. For example, if the deposit is to be deposited to your bank account a month after the end of the lease, that is what it should say in the lease.
Where the Deposit Is To Be Stored
Some states have rules that govern the storage of security deposits while others aren't clear on the issue. For example, some states require landlords to deposit the money in interest-earning accounts for the duration of the lease. That way the tenant's money isn't just sitting somewhere idle. Even without clear state laws, it's advantageous to have the issue included in the lease.
As you can see, a rental lease isn't a simple document or agreement. In fact, you should have it scrutinized by a real estate professional to confirm that everything is satisfactory and above board.