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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #1 

I have a tenant who recently began having issues paying on time. she was late in Dec and paid finally but did not include late fee of $50 + $5 for 2 days. I just noted it and figured I would take it out of the deposit since she is obviously having some problems.

This month she was late, then bounced 2 checks. so we are up to $105 in late fees and $60 in bounced check fees.

Can I legally take this out of her deposit when she moves out?

Another concern is she filed bankruptcy while entering the 2nd year of her 2 year lease, what are her protections and what should I know if we do have to evict her?

Finally she had her fiancĂ© move in recently and casually mentioned it.  I need to add him to the lease, she wants to leave him off and be the sole one responsible. Should I make him do a credit and background at least? What are the pros and cons of this? She did not have an problems until he was in the picture.

Sorry I am an amateur. We have rented this house for 5 years and she is our first problem tenant [frown]

Thank you!

Posts: 170
Reply with quote  #2 
It looks like you might be in CA.  Here is what CA law says about security deposits:

California law specifically allows the landlord to use a tenant's security deposit for four purposes:

  • For unpaid rent;
  • For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in;214
  • For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant's guests; and
  • If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property (including keys), other than because of normal wear and tear.215
It doesn't look like you can withhold for late fees.  Instead you should include a clause in your lease agreements stating you apply payments to outstanding fees before applying to the rent.  This way, if your tenant makes a rent payment you get paid back your fees and can withhold deposit for any unpaid rent.

As for bankruptcy, I imagine if you tenant entered into bankruptcy proceedings during the lease then I think this would seriously complicate or limit your recourse.  Have you been contacted by the bankruptcy trustee?  Here is a good article from NOLO.  

Regarding the boyfriend, run a background and credit check.  Does your lease require any adult living in the property to be named on the lease?  It should.  It sounds like he might be part of the problem.

Although you are not entirely new to landlording, here are some more landlording tips to help you avoid mistakes like this in the future.  

Good Luck!

AccidentalRental - A profitable resource for new landlords

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