Jan E. Beran, Attorney at Law

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Residential Landlord and Tenant

Security Deposits

  • At the commencement of the tenancy, the landlord may collect a security deposit equal to one month's rent. In addition the landlord may collect a pet deposit equal to one-fourth of one month's rent.
  • A landlord may also require prepaid rent prior to the occupancy of the premises, a common requirement is that the tenant pay first and last month's rent prior to moving in.
  • At the termination of the tenancy, the tenant must demand that the deposit be refunded, and give the landlord a forwarding address. After the premises are returned to the landlord, the landlord has 14 days to refund the deposit or to account for the damages.
  • Accounting for damages is usually accomplished by sending a letter or other form specifying the damanges, if any, and subtracting the deposit. No special form is required, but I recommend use of a form similar to the one available as a download.
  • Landlords may deduct damages for "by reason of the tenant's noncompliance with the rental agreement or" those damages which exceed ordinary wear and tear See Neb. R.R.S. 76-1416 and 76-1421.
  • Occasionally a landlord is unable to complete the repairs within the 14 days. This is no excuse for not sending the accounting/itemization of damages. In fact failure to do so may result in the landlord not being able to recover any of the damages owing. To protect the right to claim the damages, the landlord must provide an accounting of the deposit. If the repairs and billings cannot be completed within the 14 days, reasonably accurate estimates of the repairs should be obtained and substituted for the actual bills.

What is Considered Ordinary Wear and Tear?

  • Reasonable wear and tear is the gradual deterioration or the property or fixtures from the use, lapse of time and the operation of the element's in spite of the care given by the tenant.
  • Tenants in single family (SF) houses have a greater obligation, than those in multiple family units. The SF dweller will have an obligation to maintain the exterior of the premises to a greater extent than their multi unit friends. For example, SF dwellers will most often be responsible for the lawn care, and often will be responsible for making sure the gutters and downspouts are maintained.
  • Clean carpets. It is a well documented fact that professionally cleaned carpeting lasts longer than one that is vacuumed on a regular basis. Professionally cleaning carpeting will add to the life of the carpet, as well as stay cleaner for a longer period of time for the tenant. Professional cleaning has the added advantage of removing the previous tenant's habits (smoke, pet dander and odors, and other problems) from the carpet. Before moving in, Tenants should request that the carpets be cleaned, and offer to reimburse the landlord for the charge by deducting such charges from their deposits after they vacate.
  • Another factor to consider is the length of time a tenant resides in the premises. The longer a tenant has been in a unit, the more likely that there will be wear and tear. Conversly, the shorter time, six months or less for example the greater chance that damages and cleaning will not be considered "ordinary wear and tear".

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