Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
Renting an apartment is not easy. Some places require first month’s rent and a security deposit equal to a month’s rent before you can even move in. This is a lot of money. The New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness reported that the median fair market rent for a two bedroom apartment is $1,259 a month. This means you would have to put up $2,500 just to move in.
For the landlord, the security deposit is to ensure that the tenant leaves the rental in the same shape as when they first moved in. If the tenant leaves the rental in good shape the renter would get their security deposit returned to them. In most cases the landlord uses the security deposit to clean and freshen up the apartment and returns the unused amount to the tenant. In many cases, tenants never see their security deposits returned to them after the leave.
A group of New Hampshire legislators is looking to make it harder for people to rent and more profitable for landlords by increasing the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit.
Introduced this week, House Bill 1485, would allow landlords to collect a security deposit equal to two month’s rent up front as a condition of the rental agreement. Currently the law only allows for a maximum of one month’s rent. With this change a renter could be forced to come up with $3,700 up front to move into their new apartment.
This is an exorbitant amount of money for most people.
According to a 2015 study, “62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 21 percent don’t even have a savings account.” They continued by saying “62 percent of Americans have no emergency savings for things such as a $1,000 emergency room visit or a $500 car repair.”
If if the average American cannot come up with $500 dollars for an emergency repair on their car, how are they going to come up with $3,700 for a down-payment on an apartment? This also speaks to the fact that we need to raise the minimum wage to a real living wage, but I digress.
This bill is unnecessary and spiteful. Even paying two months rent up front is hard enough, making them pay three is obscene. Making it a “security deposit” that they may or may not get back is even worse. One month’s rent for a security deposit is more than ample. If the tenant does more damage than the security deposit covers, take them to court.
The legislature should kill this bill.
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Matthew Murray is founder of the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message, and oversees the NH Labor News Facebook page. Follow @NHLabor_News on Twitter.