One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as a landlord is to make sure that the amount I charge for a security or damage deposit is a different amount than the monthly rent. This helps tenants understand that it is, in fact, for something other than the rent.
I can’t even count the number of times tenants have given me proper notice, then not paid the last month’s rent. When I approach them for it, the answer is always the same, “just take it out of my security deposit.”
That would be fine if I knew with certainty that the place will be left clean and in impeccable condition. Most of the time, it’s not. And if I’ve allowed the security deposit to be used in lieu of rent, I’m forced to pay for any repairs for damages caused by the tenant out of pocket. In order to be reimbursed, I then need to pursue the matter in court.
Simply making the amount different than the rent, along with offering a clear explanation that it may not be used for rent, helps prevent this misunderstanding.