There are a number of factors that comprise the overall cost of renting an apartment. Along with paying monthly installments, utility bills, and Internet and cable fees, renters must also consider the security deposit required to move into a living space. Because legal requirements for security deposits vary from state-to-state, it’s important to understand what the State of Michigan requires of landlords, property owners, and tenants alike. 48 West explains the security deposit laws in Michigan and provides answers to common questions residents have regarding security deposits.
What Is A Security Deposit?
A security deposit is one payment made by a tenant to a landlord or property management company before moving into a residence. The deposit serves as the tenant’s assurance that he/she will perform each responsibility listed in the housing contract, including paying monthly installments on-time.
At the conclusion of the rental term, the landlord determines whether the tenant fulfilled all responsibilities (i.e. cleaning the apartment before moving). If the tenant has not fulfilled every requirement, the landlord deducts money from the deposit to cover associated fees and then returns the remaining sum to the tenant. Even before you move to a community, it’s helpful to review tips for getting back the full security deposit.
Do I Get A Receipt?
48 West documents all transactions and issues receipts upon request for installment payments, maintenance requests, and security deposits. That said, all GVSU housing communities should be following our lead (at least when it comes to deposits) because Michigan law says each tenant is entitled to a written notice after paying a deposit.
The notice should be issued within 14 days of the tenant moving in, and it should contain the name and address of the landlord and the same for the bank, financial institution, or surety that holds the security deposit. The notice also informs tenants of their obligation to notify the landlord within four days of moving out of their forwarding address.
How Much Is A Deposit?
Under Michigan law, a security deposit can’t exceed one and a half month’s installment payment. If a monthly fee is $800, for example, the maximum amount of a security deposit would be $1,200. That said, deposits can also be less than the legal maximum.
What’s nice about living in off campus housing near GVSU is that landlords often calculate amounts that are affordable to match student budgets. While you’re searching for student apartments to rent in Allendale, you can also call the leasing office for each property and inquire about the deposit rate.
How Is My Deposit Secured?
There’s a good chance you’ll get back much or all of a security deposit upon moving out, especially if you follow the recommended move-out steps. But in the meantime, between move-in and move-out, your landlord must hold onto the deposit.
Per Michigan law, landlords can store deposits in one of two ways:
- Place the money into an escrow account at a regulated bank or financial institution, or
- Post a surety bond for the amount of the deposit.
Either technique ensures the money paid up front remains in safe hands throughout your tenancy.
Why Were Deductions Taken Out?
You know already a security deposit is essentially a promise that you’ll live up to the responsibilities outlined in the housing contract. And if you don’t do these things, the landlord can deduct money from the deposit to fulfill the requirements.
The three main reasons that renters lose parts of their security deposits are:
- Late or unpaid monthly installments;
- Late or unpaid utility bills; and/or
- Excessive wear and tear or damage caused to the property.
These reasons also apply to the residents of off campus GVSU student housing. However, students often face deductions for breaches of their housing contracts, as well, including breaking the contract by moving out early or neglecting to provide a vacate notice — remember you can avoid deductions by carefully reading the housing contract.
When Will I Receive My Deposit?
In Michigan, landlords have 30 days from when the tenant moves out to return a security deposit to the tenant. The payment is made as a check or money order, and any deductions that were made must also be explained in an accompanying itemized list. Tenants have seven days from when they receive their deposits to contest any charges.
Although disputes can be handled in court, the civil approach is to be upfront with your landlord from the beginning. Before move out, ask whether you can be present during the walkthrough inspection. If any potential deductions are raised, discuss them and try to find an amicable resolution. A few extra hours of clean-up just may save time and money down the line.
48 West is an off campus student community located near Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI. We offer reasonable rates on private bedrooms for rent in spacious, furnished apartments, and our security deposit policy is designed to accommodate a student’s budget. We also have modern amenities and roommate-matching services. In other words, an incredible college experience is closer than you think. Contact us today to learn more.