Property Management Blog

Portland Oregon Property Owner – 5 Simple Tips For Handling Security Deposit Returns

System - Friday, April 10, 2015

Whether you are a novice or an experienced Portland Oregon Income Property Owner, one thing you can expect to do during the process of owning rental property is to have a renter move out and expect you to return their security deposit.

Here are four simple tips for dealing with security deposit returns.

Tip 1 – Be Clear On When Your Departing Tenant Can Expect Their Final Accounting Letter

Although most Portland Oregon renters will want their security deposits back right away, you must make sure the tenant knows that you have up to 30 days to send them a final accounting report and any remaining security deposit you may owe them.

Tip 2 – Make Copies of All Receipts

Let’s assume you had to clean the property after the tenant moved out, or they left a lot of trash which has to be hauled away or landscape work that had to be done.

Ensure that your final accounting letter includes copies of the receipts from all of the expenses you incurred. A detailed final accounting letter with receipts provides the documentation you need to make it clear how you applied any of the charges you may have made against your departing tenant’s security deposit.

Tip 3 – Define Wear And Tear vs. Damage

One of the gray areas with property management is the line between wear and tear and damage. You cannot withhold funds from a departing tenant’s security deposit for those things that would be considered normal wear and tear. You can charge against their security deposit for repairing damage caused by your tenant.

Sometimes the distinction between wear and tear and damage can be straightforward. Scuff marks on a wall would generally be considered normal wear and tear. A hole in the wall is generally considered damage. Sometimes the distinction is difficult, and requires you to make an informed decision. As an example, when does carpet wear become carpet damage?

Make sure you’re clear with the tenant about what you are charging against their security deposit. Be prepared to be challenged by your tenant – you need good records and clear, fair thinking.

Tip 4 – Always Take Before and After Pictures

One sure fire way to simplify the final accounting process is to take a LARGE number of before and after pictures of your rental property. The photos will be your most powerful tool to save you the time, money and hassle of ending up in a dispute with a departing tenant. Take these photos just prior to your tenant’s move in date, ensure that your new tenant knows that you have taken these photos, and provide copies of some of these photos at move-out time just as a reminder. Take a new set of photos immediately after your tenant vacates, before any post-move out work begins. This collection of before and after photos will head off an enormous number of arguments before they start.

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