Apartment 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.