An additional security deposit is required when renting a home to cover any unforeseen or unavoidable costs the landlord may incur at the tenant’s request. The amount, known as a security deposit, varies depending on the city, for instance, in Delhi, it typically amounts to one to two months’ worth of rent, though in some major cities, it might even be as much as one year’s worth. Therefore, a prospective tenant should discuss the security deposit and refund clauses with the landlord and include them in the lease.

What exactly is a security deposit?

When a tenant moves into a rental property, they must pay a sizable price to the landlord in advance. It is preserved for the duration of the rent and refunded at the end, with or without deductions. Since it is set aside for unforeseen circumstances that could arise during the tenancy, this money is crucial for the landlord. Landlords can use security money for repairs and rental funds, for instance, if the tenant breaches the terms of the lease by damaging the property or failing to, pay the rent. 

Under the model Tenancy Act 2021, the tenant is required to pay security in advance. Landlords are not allowed to charge a security deposit for more than two months’ rent, and for residential properties, it cannot be more than six months. The security deposit is not refundable when the tenant leaves the rental property, though it should be repaid within the given time frame following an inspection of the property. 

The security deposit does not qualify because it is a one-time payment even though a salaried employee’s monthly rent qualifies for the House Rent Allowance (HRA) deduction under Section 10 (13A) of the Income Tax Act of 1961. It is important to be aware that the cost of repairing any damage the tenant may have caused to the property, such as holes in the walls or broken windows, may be deducted from the security deposit. Therefore, the security deposit cannot be used to cover costs for fixing common wear and tear like peeling paint or fading wall paint.

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The security deposit is also known as a caution deposit, and in India, each state has its own criteria for a security deposit that is required by the tenants to be paid as part of the rent. Based on the cost of living, the type of area, and the location, the landlord in urban regions will need a security deposit. Rent and security deposits increase with the property’s value. 

The demand and availability of homes on the market are significant factors that influence the amount of the security deposit. Landlords increase their rental fees when there is a larger demand for rental accommodation and a lower supply of available properties. Rent and security deposit amounts are based on income level in affluent areas.  

Security Deposit Refunds And Other Customary Rules

A security deposit is necessary to safeguard the landlord’s rights in the case of property damage or nonpayment of rent. According to the Model Tenancy Act, the landlord may deduct arrears in rent and other repair costs from the security deposit and reimburse the balance if the tenant vacates the property and the tenancy expires. The landlord is responsible for taking care of any necessary structural repairs, whitewashing, external electrical cable issues, and other maintenance-related issues unless the rental agreement specifies otherwise. The day to day upkeep of the home, including cleaning, replacing switches and sockets, repairing and maintaining kitchen fixtures, adn replacing glass panels in windows and doors, will be the responsibilities of the renters. 

In order to prevent any disputes at the end of the tenancy, a rent can be discussed between the tenant and the landlord, and a valid rental agreement should be laid out.

The agreement must adhere to the following standards:

  • It must be signed by both the tenant and the landlord.
  • The agreement should include a security deposit amount clause.
  • It must be registered at the sub-registrar office in order to be enforceable.
  • The agreement should clearly state both parties’ obligations in order to prevent disputes.

Dos and don’ts of a Caution Deposit Lease Agreement?

One way to obligate both the tenant and the landlord to guarantee that the property is maintained in good condition is through the cautionary deposit.  However, both parties must disclose their security deposit requirements in advance in order to avoid future issues.

Both parties must adhere to the following rules in order to create a positive owner-tenant relationship:

  • The rental agreement must state the amount of the security deposit paid by the tenant to the landlord and the date it will be returned. 
  • The contract must be in writing and must be signed by both the renter and the owner.
  • When the lease term expires, the landlord is required to return the security deposit. They should give a detailed justification if they deduct anything from the total. 

Before signing a lease, the renter must do research on the desired neighborhood because the security deposit amount varies by city. Additionally, they might consider hiring a real estate agent to assist them in finding a home that fits their budget and creating a mutually beneficial lease.

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