Rent Smart - Understanding Security Deposits
Most landlords require a security deposit be paid before a tenant can move into a rental unit. This money is held by the landlord as insurance to cover any damages made to the rental unit, to pay for cleaning if the unit is not left in good condition, or to cover any unpaid rent or lost rent if a tenant moves out without giving adequate notice. The landlord does not have to pay interest on the security deposit in either Missouri or Kansas.
In Missouri, the maximum a landlord can charge for a security deposit is the equivalent of two months' rent. In Kansas, the maximum is one month's rent on an unfurnished apartment and 1 ½ month's rent on a furnished unit. If the landlord allows a tenant to have pets, a pet deposit can be charged on top of the security deposit. In both states the security deposit must be returned to the tenant within 30 days of the end of the lease. If all or part of the security deposit is withheld by the landlord , a written list of itemized deductions must be sent to the former tenant. Tenants need to leave a forwarding address with their landlord at move-out to be sure the returned security deposit will reach them.
The best protection tenants have to keep from paying for damages that they did not cause is a detailed check-in inventory. On the check-in inventory note the condition of the flooring, walls, ceilings, windows, doors, appliances, countertops, sinks and tubs. If something is damaged or not clean when you move in, note it on the inventory even if the landlord promises to remedy the problem immediately. Taking pictures of damage or dirty areas is another way tenants can protect themselves. Return one copy of the check-in inventory to the landlord and keep a copy for yourself. Ask the landlord to initial and date both copies of the inventory.