I have two legal question about deposits.
Is my deposit (in Chinese: 押租保證金) a rental deposit, meant to secure my last month’s rent but not damages, which must be fully returned when I leave? or a damage deposit, which my landlord can deduct from for damages, cleaning, ill will, and so forth?
Is it legal to treat a rental deposit as my last month’s rent? (I am told, by my Taiwanese friends, that it is normal.)
Here are the details of my situation, which, since I’m using a fairly standard housing contract – the little green booklet entitled 房屋租債契約書 – might be useful to others as well.
In my contract, my deposit is referred to as a 押租保證金 (rental deposit), and the article referring to it makes no mention of the landlord being able to deduct any of it for damages.
第五條：乙方應於訂約時，交於甲方新台幣 xxx 元作為押租保證金，乙方如不繼續承租，甲方應於乙方遷空、交還房屋後無息退還押租保證金。
Article 5: When signing the contract Party B [me] must give Party A [the landlord] NTD xxx as a rental deposit. If Party B doesn’t continue to rent [when the contract expires], after Party B has emptied and returned the dwelling, Party A must return the rental deposit without interest.
Likewise, the article referring to my responsibility for damages makes no mention of the deposit.
So … can my landlord withhold part or all of my deposit to pay for damages or delay paying it to cover any unpaid bills? Or is the deposit merely to cover my landlord for the last month’s rent?
And if the deposit is merely for the last month’s rent, is it legal forme to treat it as the last month’s rent?
At home, a deposit is a damage deposit, and it is meant to cover only damages, inspected at the time of moving out, not to secure the rent or cover unpaid bills. (The latter are forwarded on to the tenant, and the deposit is usually less than a month’s rent.) So at home there would be no question about paying rent up until the last month.
But I’m not sure what the situation is in Taiwan. I’m not trying to pre-emptive counter-cheat my landlord. I’ve simply been told by Taiwanese friends that treating the deposit as the last month’s rent is normal. I want to know if this is true, and, more importantly, if it is legal.
Many thanks for your assistance.