Answers to your commonly asked questions
Can I use my security deposit as my last month's rent?
No. The security deposit is intended to be used for any tenant damages beyond normal wear and tear.
How big can the security deposit be?
Under Missouri law, a landlord cannot charge more than two months’ rent as a security deposit. At the end of the lease, the landlord has 30 days to return the security deposit with an itemized list of damages for which any portion of the deposit is kept. During that 30-day period, the landlord must provide reasonable notice to the tenant of the time and date when the landlord plans to inspect the dwelling. The tenant has the right to be present during the move-out inspection, which must be conducted at a reasonable time. To avoid last-minute problems, tenants should ask the landlord in what condition he expects the unit to be left. Then allow plenty of time for cleaning. The landlord may keep all or part of a deposit to pay for actual damages (not for normal wear and tear), unpaid rent, or lost rent due to the tenant moving out without adequate notice.
How can I avoid any charges to my security deposit when I move out?
Document your move in conditions using photo, video, commentary, whatever means you feel is necessary to capture anything worth noting. To avoid last minute problems at move out, you should ask the landlord in what condition he expects the unit to be left. Then allow plenty of time for cleaning.
Is the landlord required to repair all of my requests?
The landlord is responsible for repairs caused by ordinary wear and tear and natural forces such as the weather. Tenants should pay for damages resulting from their own negligence or the negligence of a guest. If repairs are needed, ask the landlord to make repairs within a reasonable period of time. If repairs are not made, make a written request for the necessary repairs and keep a copy of the letter.
What happens if the owner sells the property I'm renting?
The landlord must provide written notice to you when ownership of the property is transferred to a new landlord. Any deposits will be transferred to the new owner.
Norma Wear and Tear vs Damage
Let's look at two common examples of this debate; normal wear and tear vs damaged carpet and paint.
If the carpet has been in place for 5 years or longer, it's the landlords responsibiltiy to replace it, since that's the length of the carpet's useful life. If the carpet has light or sun damage, or is showing signs of wear, that's normal wear and tear.
If the carpet has worn out and become a trip hazard, it should be immediately replaced and paid for by the landlord. It is the landlord's responsiblity to keep the property free of hazards. However, if the carpet has been ripped or heavily stained, that is tenant damage.
Peeling paint, sun fading or small scuffs are considered normal wear and tear. If the paint has excessive scuffs/marks or holes, those are tenant damages. Any drawings or scribbles are tenant damages.
While discerning whether something is normal or damage is subjective, we have extensive experience at determining what charges, if any, are to be made to tenants.