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1st and last month's rent versus Security Deposit

Hi,  New landlord here, so I apologize if this is a dumb question!  Can someone please help clarify how/what you charge a new renter upfront?    Do you charge 1st and last month's rent AND require a security deposit? Or, is the last month's rent the same as a security deposit?   If all three are separate from one another, how much do you typically charge for a security deposit?  Thanks, in advance, for any guidance on this!

There is a difference between last month's rent and the security deposit. Legally (in most states), a security deposit is only technically supposed to be used to pay for repairs on the property, on damage caused by the tenants, and the tenants have a right to ask for documentation for how that money was spent if it was withheld. Each state has different laws specifying how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit, but usually it's 1 to 2 months' rent. The bottom line with all of these, however, is that the more you can collect up front, the better protected you are.
Great answer - thanks!  So, if I'm reading this correctly... I SHOULD ask for 1st AND last month's rent AS WELL as one month's rent for security deposit?    Ex:  If rent is specified at $1,200, we would require $3,600 upfront?
Yes, if that is typical for your area.  You do not want to exclude your self from the market by asking for more than is common.  Perhaps you can call some local Realtors who have ads and  ask what they require.  I used to live in NY, often renters had to come up with the equivalent of 4 month's rent: 1 for fee and the three you stated.  Best Wishes  I. H.
Each community practice varies. Check you local paper to see what other landlords are advertising. In my area it is typical to say "1st & Last" but in reality it is 1st +security deposit +cleaning fee +any other fees/deposits  States vary greatly on the law and not knowing the details could cause you some headaches in court later on. What is the difference between a Fee and a Deposit? Are there certain situations when you can use one and not the other? In some states they must be handled differently.   As an aside - did you know that MN requires paying the tenant interest on deposits?
@Joan, by fee, I meant realtor's or finder's fee, in addition to first, last and security.
To all of you who have responded, thank you SO MUCH!  Your responses have been SO helpful.  @Joan, I very much appreciate the advice and the extra effort you took to provide a link directing me to the MN AG site.  Good luck to all of you!
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