The Additional Security Deposit Dilemma

The Additional Security Deposit DilemmaAs property managers, we sometimes feel the need to ask for additional security deposit funds to approve prospective tenant applications. That sometimes leads us to receive letters like the following:

Dear Property Manager,

I am very interested in the rental house you have listed! I think it will be perfect for our family. However, when you asked me for an additional month of security deposit, it made me concerned. Money doesn’t grow on trees these days and I thought the rental ad said you only needed one month down. We also have to come up with the first month’s rent and pet fees, so you’re talking about a pretty big sum already. I’ll be honest, I just don’t have it.

I explained our situation to you. The economy had turned against us, but we’re past it! My wife is employed again and getting you the rent will be no problem. Haven’t you ever had anything happen to you before? Have a heart! We’d take great care of the home, but just need the security deposit reduced. My business is booming so things will be fine! Don’t worry! You’ll get your money!

So what do you say? Can you help me out?

Sincerely,

Mr. Tenant

P. S. My wife thought you looked exquisite in your emerald blazer! It’s a bold move to wear it in 97 degree heat, if you ask me, but it’s better to look good than feel good, right?

The tenant makes a good argument, right? However, the facts of their application may tell a different story. This would be an example of how we would respond:

Mr. Tenant,

Thank your wife for the kind words about my blazer. Typically they run the air conditioning at 40 below (so I try to stay prepared), but it didn’t work well when we moved outside. Emerald has sort of grown on me as I’ve gotten older. I think it complements my eyes, but opinions sometimes vary. You know, you make a call on the outfit every morning and sometimes you hit it out of the park and sometimes you whiff. Truth be told, I’d settle for hitting singles in the clothing department!

As for the request for additional security deposit monies, I understand your concern. Let me explain our rationale.

I understand you hit a rough spot a year ago; that happens. It’s obviously not just you; we see applications like this everyday. We also rent to a lot of people who have hit rough spots before! It’s not a deal-killer.

But there are other mitigating factors. Let’s look at your credit application and income. Your scores are obviously not good, but I’m not overly worried about that. There looks to be some recent 30-day late payments on power bills and cable. Your current landlord said that you had a few late payments as well during their lease (at an amount less than you would be paying now). You gave us your business bank statements to show your income, but it’s not clear how much of that actually makes it to you. This information collectively gives me pause about your financial condition.

My job as a property manager is to mitigate risk for our client, the owner of the home you want to rent. I personally think you would be a great tenant; anyone who compliments my wardrobe is good in my book! But if something happened to you that turned into a decent size expense, I can’t say with much certainty (with the information we have) that your lease wouldn’t be at risk. If an extra thousand dollar deposit is a deal-killer from your end, what would happen if your car stopped running next week? You obviously would need to fix that first to get to work. The owner of the home would be left waiting for their payment. And we wouldn’t be doing our job well.

If you have something that addresses these concerns, please send this information over so we can consider it! We make money by filling properties, so we want to approve you! We just have to protect our clients first.

I hope this letter clears the air. Thank you for your interest in our home and I hope we can work together in the future.

Sincerely,

Your Property Manager

P. S. On your suggestion, I’m wearing a short-sleeved cotton blend shirt today, no jacket. It feels good – thanks for the suggestion!

Additional security deposit requests are sometimes necessary to protect landlords. Mitigating risk is more important than hurting feelings!