How long can an ex-property manager hold on to the tenants deposits?

6 Replies

I recently let go my property manager and took over the management duties on a couple of my houses.  I resigned the tenants and local law states that if tenants move out the landlord has to refund the deposit within 30 days.  Since the tenants are still in place the law does not really apply.

Has anyone been through a similar situation and how long is allowed before the ex-manager has to transfer the funds back to me to hold in escrow?

@Christopher Gilbert  

In a perfect world, the PM should have given you a final accounting and any funds held within 5 business days (as it really isn't that hard to account for smaller landlords). But I think that within 30 days would be the deadline as that allows the old PM to go through another business cycle with their business and calculate a payout. I am sure that this situation may be covered in Texas law; so I would just read the statutes for your knowledge. I would then write a certified letter demanding your final accounting and funds.

@Christopher Gilbert  -

I am not 100% sure, but if the property manager is licensed (and they have to be in Texas, but not all comply) there is probably a rule or law governed by the Texas Real Estate Commission.  I can promise you that they are not allowed to keep it for any unreasonable period of time.  I would think a quick letter from a real estate attorney ($150 cost at the most) requesting quick return of the security deposits should suffice to get that taken care of quickly.

I can't speak to Texas real estate license code, but in general, as soon as a property management agreement is terminated, the tenant's security deposit is no longer the liability of the management company. As a property manager I would desire to disburse the funds to the owner as soon as possible as the funds no longer belong in my trust account.

The owner's escrow account may take a bit longer to settle if there are unpaid maintenance bills, management fees, etc.  

I would start with a certified letter and cc your local Division of Real Estate. The real estate division may be the cudgel that's needed, rather than employing an attorney. Barring paperwork issues, the money should be delivered on the termination date.

@Christopher Gilbert  

Send a letter by certified and regular mail to the property management company demanding the deposits and a complete accounting(for Tax purposes) within 10 days or you will file a complaint with the Texas Real Estate Commission