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Tenants cautious of deposit losses

Jarrett Lantz | Wednesday, April 27, 2005

As the year comes to an end, many Notre Dame students are taking advantage of their last opportunities to host parties in their houses and apartments. But many off-campus students also find themselves driving to their local hardware store to pick up plaster, paint and carpet shampoo to make their apartment or house look like new. “We’ve kept our house in very good condition,” said Ramin Saghafi, a Notre Dame student living on St. Peter’s Street for the past year. “We are going to repair what we need to in order to try to get as much of our deposit back as possible.” When one first rents a house or apartment, they must put down a security deposit to proactively pay for any damages incurred during their stay. When the tenants leave, the deposit is generally refunded if no damage was done to the apartment or home. Security deposits vary depending on the apartment or home. In general, the more student parties take place on the property the higher the deposit is. College Park, for example, charges an entire month’s rent – or approximately $1,000 – for the deposit, while residents in other complexes only have to put down a few hundred dollars. “Our security deposit is $300,” said Kim Childs, Property Manager at Castle Point. “$250 can be refunded and $50 is nonrefundable for carpet cleaning.” Historically, Turtle Creek has had the highest security deposits of any South Bend apartments due to its close location to campus and notoriety for parties. Turtle Creek’s new management refused to comment on its security deposit policy, or to say how much it cost. Although policies vary between property owners, most tend to give back a large portion of the security deposit, minus any nonrefundable charges. “I would say that most people get most of their deposit back if there’s no damage or lots of garbage or holes punched in the doors,” said Childs. “Not very often do we have to bill extra expenses to the residents.” Even when there are problems, Childs said she was impressed by the responsibility residents took for their actions. “Usually students apologize, which is different from most properties,” Childs said. “I’m impressed by the conduct of those who have been talked to by security and come to see me instead of me having to seek them out.” Many Notre Dame students understand their apartment or house’s security deposit policy and do not question the fairness of their landlords in evaluating which damages the students must pay for. “I’ve heard that many people get screwed over on the security deposits,” Saghafi said. “At the same time, though, some people really trash their houses, breaking windows, screens, doors, and putting holes in walls.” However, other students disagree that landlords treat the students fairly, saying tenants are overcharged for unnecessary or unrelated repairs. “The previous tenant in our apartment did not get most of his deposit back because they said they had to replace the carpet because of a stain,” said Lori Clark, who lives at College Park. “When he came to visit, the stain was still here so [the carpet] was not replaced. I do not think the landlord is fair, especially if they are charging for damages you did not cause or that they are not going to replace.”