Is it okay to ask for 2x deposit + 2x rent (first and last month)

7 Replies

Since all the applications I've been getting have really bad credit scores, and having gone through evicting a tenant who couldn't pay me three months' worth of rent, I decided to ask for double deposit and first and last month's rent.

The applicant I approved signed the lease with these fees specified but upon moving in, he only paid me 2 months' deposit and 1 month's rent (I was in a hurry when he handed the payment, I just assumed he paid what was agreed on in the lease).  

I found out later that he didn't pay the full amount and talked to him about it, he said it's illegal in the state of Maryland to ask for 2 months' rent on top of the double deposit, even if it's specified on the lease and he signed it.

I already talked to a lawyer about this, I was told that he isn't aware of any such laws in Maryland prohibiting or allowing landlords to ask for 2 months' rent in advance on top of a double deposit. 

Would anyone know if it is indeed illegal to ask for 2 months' rent besides a double deposit? 

@Kareem Aaron its a tough spot as he already moved in. 

I could only find the law stating the max security deposit to collect is 2 months rent. You might want to do more research even if your lawyer said so. I found unless the lawyers deal specifically with rental laws and evictions, most don't know the law very well.

You could always ask him to pay an extra $200 a month or so to get the last months rent setup.

I handled 99% of my own evictions when I had affordable housing. I wouldn't feel comfortable taking this person to court for an eviction even if it is in violation of the lease terms as it would be too easy to get a liberal judge that ignores it, and says they are not behind on current rent do and its in their view a minor lease infraction. I got stuck with a judge one time that ruled against me, even though I followed the statute right, he was just in a bad mood. I had a lawyer refile, we got the same judge and he then ruled in our favor. It was quicker to refile than appeal. We then later filed a formal complaint against the judge. But my point here is, a liberal judge can screw you on this. 

One last note, asking for two months rent and two months security deposit will severely limit your rental pool. When I did affordable housing, I did first months rent plus two months security deposit. This basically gave me the cream of the crop of the low income bracket. Also, try to time marketing places for rent in February, as most low income folks get their tax refund in February or March. This is when they have lots of extra cash and can afford the extra deposit.

@Kareem Aaron not from your area, but all of the research that I completed reveals there is no statute on prepaid rent. To me this means you could request as much prepaid rent as you see fit so I don't see how what you are requesting is even remotely illegal. The only statute I could find was on Rent deposits, which is a maximum of 2 months of which you have already remained within the law for that. I would say that you have every right if your tenant signed a lease stipulating 2 months rent at time of signing to collect said rents. I am by no means a lawyer, but there literally isn't anything that I could find stating that. 

Hope this helps and best wishes. 

Your tenant is correct. Maryland law considers last months rent to be a form of security deposit.

Security Deposits (Maryland Code, Real Property, Section 8-203)
This law applies to all residential tenancies, whether the lease is written or oral.
(a) Definition – a “security deposit” is any payment of money, including the final month’s rent paid in advance, which is given to the landlord by the tenant in order to protect the landlord against non-payment of rent or damage to the leased premises, common areas, major appliances, and furnishings.

Russell Brazil, Real Estate Agent in Maryland (#648402), Virginia (#0225219736), District of Columbia (#SP98375353), and Massachusetts (#9​0​5​2​3​4​6)
(301) 893-4635

 I can’t comment on the legality of what you’re asking but I do think that’s a lot of money to collect from a tenant. It will limit your renter pool. Most renters, including even relatively high earners,  don’t have that much cash sitting around to fork over. 

Your tenant is right. Two months deposit is fine, plus first month's rent. That's it. Anything more is illegal.

Thank you for all your valuable input, I appreciate.

Google your state landlord-tenant laws and print them out. You need to know this to protect yourself AND your tenant. 

John Thedford, Real Estate Agent in FL (#BK3098153)
239-200-5600

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