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by Robert Griswold

Q: I have been renting a house to three college students and their lease is up soon. However, I just learned that only one of the original students on the lease is still there. He does not plan to renew the lease and I am wondering what to do with the security deposit.

RoommatesHow do I make out the refund check for the security deposit? Do I divide the security deposit into separate shares and send out checks to each of them? Or do I send one check to all three names?
I am concerned that the one remaining tenant will claim he is entitled to all of the deposit back and then I will be sued by the other tenants.
I am in a bind as I have no idea where the other two tenants are currently living.

A: You should make the check payable to all three tenants listed on the currently valid lease. So unless the vacated tenants have given you a written statement releasing any interest they have in the security deposit, you should make the refund check payable to all three named tenants. You do not have any information on the current whereabouts of the other two tenants, so your only option is to mail the check to the address of your rental unit.

It is likely that the current tenant will be the one who receives the refund check, but any challenges the tenants face in negotiating the check are their issues not yours. It is possible that you will be provided with the current contact information for the other two tenants before sending the refund check. In that case, I would suggest you still send the check to the property address and also send a copy of the check and the final accounting of the security deposit to the other tenants so they would be aware of the status of the deposit.

This column on issues confronting tenants and landlords is written by property manager Robert Griswold, author of “Property Management for Dummies” and “Property Management Kit for Dummies” and co-author of “Real Estate Investing for Dummies.” E-mail your questions to Rental Q&A at [email protected]. Questions should be brief and cannot be answered individually.

Copyright 2009 Inman News
See Robert Griswold’s feature, Partial Rent Payments Spell Trouble.

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