5 Ways to Ensure You Get Your Security Deposit Back

SavingsApartment managers and landlords often request a security deposit from all new renters. And, you are promised that you will get that security deposit back at the end of your lease term. While you might assume that there is no way to ruin the chances of that, you would be surprised at how many renters never find that security deposit coming back to them in the end. So, before you sign the lease or even put down the money — which could be thousands — make sure you know what it takes to keep that security deposit.

Document the Condition Before You Move-In

Before you even move your first box into the apartment, document the condition of the apartment. Take photographs and make sure they are time-stamped. When you do the initial walkthrough with your property owner, take the photographs and make sure you write everything down on the inspection list. Then, get a copy of that inspection list and store it with your photographs. That way if the landlord tries to state you caused damage and withhold your security deposit, you have proof that the damage was already there before you moved in.

Give Notice Properly

Look at your lease and see what notice is required by the landlord. Even if your lease is up, the landlord may require that you give a 30-day notice before leaving. To keep your security deposit, you will want to follow all notification rules.

Fill In Holes

It is likely you are going to leave behind a few holes in the wall, especially if you hang anything during your stay. If the lease states that the apartment must be returned in the condition you received it, then you will need to fix a few holes before moving out. Use plaster to filling the holes and repaint the spots using the same paint color originally on the walls.

Maintain the Apartment While You Live There

While you live there, don’t act like a renter — act as if you own that space. That means reporting any maintenance needs right away, cleaning up after yourself, etc. Not performing proper maintenance or keeping the unit clean could result in you not getting your security deposit back.

Do Not Leave Stuff Behind

When you move out, take everything with you. Any trash or items left behind could be considered not returning the apartment in good condition. And, an apartment manager could keep some or all of your security deposit for doing so.

Jun 2014

What to Do When You Don’t Get Your Security Deposit

leaseWhen you sign a lease, you hand over your security deposit as part of the agreement process. When the lease is up, you give your notice, pack up your stuff, clean up after you’re done and you’re supposed to get your security deposit back too. But, what happens when that check never comes or the manager tells you you aren’t getting it back?

It’s important to know what you can do if you don’t get your deposit back. While there are times your landlord was just, there are other times you have options to get it back — regardless if the landlord was planning on giving it back or not.

Discuss Your Security Deposit Situation with the Landlord Before You Move Out

When you give your notice, discuss the security deposit with your property manager. Ask about how and when you will get it back, how much you are going to get back, etc. Refer to your rental agreement too and see what it says about you deposit. If your property owner’s response is different, remind them of the terms in the legal document you both signed. He would hold you to the contract, so you can gladly hold him to the terms too.

Follow Up

Sometimes things get lost. If you don’t receive your security deposit, discuss it with your manager after you have moved out. Let them know you haven’t received it and find out the status of that deposit. If they are not giving you clear answers or seem to be giving you the run around, you still have options.

Make Sure You Were in the Right

A lot of renters don’t get their security deposit back and think their property owner broke the law. But, how well did you care for the apartment? Did you follow all of the terms in your lease? Did you leave the place a mess? Did you do a final walkthrough with the manager to make sure that everything was noted properly? If you didn’t do your due diligence, you might not have a chance to fight your property owner in court for your security deposit.

The Law Gives You Options

If you are in the right and a landlord refuses to return your deposit, you have the law on your side. The law protects landlords and tenants alike, especially from property managers stealing their security deposit. Check the laws about security deposits and see how long a landlord has to legally return it or give notice you won’t be receiving it. Then, file a complaint with the housing authority as well as the state attorney general.

May 2014
POSTED IN Legal Tips

How to Ensure You Get Your Security Deposit Back

Coin Bank And HouseYour security deposit is required at the time you sign your lease. Sometimes it is the first and last month’s rent, other times your property owner requires a set fee for theapartment. The purpose of the security deposit is simple: it ensures the apartment is saved for you, and helps protect the property owner from any damages or skips you might perform. But, regardless of how good of a tenant you are, if you aren’t careful, you could not get your security deposit back or get only a small amount back.

Everything from damage from your furry friends to not cleaning your apartment properly at the end of your lease could prevent you from getting your security deposit back. But, how often does a property owner really hold a person’s security deposit? You might be surprised.

In a recent study, 25 percent of all apartment renters didn’t get their security deposit back and 36 percent of those renters never even were told why by the manager. So, if you are renting, it’s important to find out the rules regarding your security deposit and how you can ensure you get it back at the end of your lease.

Get Permission for Everything You Do

You should get written permission for everything you do in your apartment. That means changing the wall color, hanging pictures, etc. That way if the property owner withholds your security deposit, you have documented proof that you were given permission to do so.

Review Your Lease Thoroughly

There are usually guidelines in your lease that tell you how to handle your security deposit and how the landlord will handle it. You should have a list of conditions that could prevent you from getting your deposit back in your rental agreement. If you don’t see them, don’t sign it. Ask the landlord to specify the terms of the deposit in your agreement, including any conditions that prevent you from getting it all or some of it back, and then sign the lease.

Take Photos

Before you leave the apartment, have it cleaned and then take photographs of each room. Compare these photos to those you take when you first rent the apartment. Make sure they have a date and time stamp. That way if the property owner says there is damage, you have photographic proof that the damage was there before you rented the unit.

Discuss It With Your Landlord

At the end of the lease, if your landlord refuses to give you your security deposit, talk to them. Sometimes just having a discussion as to why and what you can do may help you get at least some of it back.

Apr 2014