Getting that Security Deposit Back!

security depositYou’ve been a good tenant, never bothered anyone, and always paid your rent on time. Now, it’s time to move and you’ve cleaned the apartment so well that you could eat off of the floors. Now there’s only one thing left to worry about: how do you get your security deposit back when you move out?

The first step to protecting your deposit is to have a clear understanding of what the apartment looked like before you moved in. This means going over it thoroughly with the landlord and noting everything that is wrong with paperwork and photos. That way, you won’t get stuck with issues when you move out.

Another pre-leasing nightmare to watch out for is the definition of normal wear and tearâ. Every lease will specify that the apartment has to be returned to the landlord in this condition. But what specifies normalâ? Chances are, their interpretation and yours will differ greatly. Have it spelled out, in detail, in the lease agreement.

The next step involves problems that arise while you are renting. If something breaks, begin documenting the chain of events. Note when it was first reported, who you talked to, etc. Keep up with this information until the problem is rectified or your lease is up. That way, you will have records of everything that transpired so that you don’t get stuck with the repair being deducted from your deposit.

While you are a tenant, address any issues as they occur. If you stain the carpet, clean it up then. If you chip paint, paint over it. If some molding comes loose, reattach it. If you put these small repairs off until it’s time to vacate, your landlord will be happy to make them for you- for a very substantial fee.

If you aren’t good at cleaning, then bring in help. This could be friends, family, or even a cleaning lady for several hours. If the landlord sees a nasty apartment, it will only get worse from there.

When it’s time for a walk-through, bring out the original walk-through from when you moved in. If the apartment wasn’t freshly painted when you moved in then you shouldn’t be expected to foot the bill to paint it now.

Carpet is a big issue. This is why it’s worth it to vacuum all the time. By not allowing dirt to settle keeps the fibers tall and soft. Dirty carpet looks matted and useless when it may only need a good cleaning.

Don’t take the landlord’s word on everything. If they try to stiff you for $200 on an item, question it. Don’t just accept everything that they try to deduct for just because they can.

Verify when you can expect your money. If you don’t receive it in a reasonable time, tell them that you’ll see them in small claims court. Plus, you will be sure to publicize your experience on public information boards everywhere. The loss of future tenants will cost them much more than your deposit.