It’s the end of your rental period and you’re ready to move into your next apartment. But in order to do that without stretching yourself too thin financially, you need your security deposit back. While it’s nice to know that that is a refundable item, landlords can keep part or all of the money for a number of reasons. We’re here to help you learn the Do’s and Don’ts of renting so you can maximize your security deposit.
How Can You Lose Your Security Deposit?
As we mentioned before, your landlord can keep the deposit, but only under certain conditions. Your lease should have all possible reasons included, so be sure to read it in entirety (including the fine print) before you sign!
Some common reasons that renters end up with no or a partial refund include:
- Back-owed rent
- Damage done to rental unit
- Rental units are dirty and need to be cleaned
- No or little notice given before moving out
Tips to Maximize Your Security Deposit
So now that you are aware of how you could lose your refund, here are some tips on how to get the most of your security return back.
Read Your Lease Agreement & Clean-Up Vague Language
It’s incredibly important to know what you’re signing up for with a rental space. Be sure to read the entire document and point out if anything needs to be clarified. This includes non-specific details that could leave you in the lurch to cover, such as “ordinary wear and tear” and “reasonable efforts”.
Basically, if you feel that something in the lease could be open to interpretation, work with your landlord to make the lease as clear as possible.
As a renters you are able to schedule to a “walk through” with their landlord no sooner than two weeks from when you move out. This is when the landlord can go through a property with the tenant and point out what they think needs to be done in order to get their security deposit back. They can point out what areas need to be cleaned that a lot of times are missed (ceiling fans, drawers, window sills, baseboards etc.)
Report Existing Damage & Repairs Needed
Use your phone to take photos and videos of any damage in the rental before you move in. Even if it’s a minor scuff on the wall or tiny scratches on the floor, this will help prevent your landlord from thinking that you were the cause.
If there are new signs of damage while you are living in the apartment, notify your landlord immediately. This also goes for any repairs that need to be done, such as clogged drains.
While there are some maintenance issues that you can take care of yourself, major repairs should be discussed with your landlord beforehand so that your security deposit isn’t taken.
Provide Plenty of Notice
Just like your landlord has to provide written notice before evicting tenants, you must provide similar notice if you are moving out. If you break your lease by leaving before the rental period is over, security deposits are often used to cover the rent that should have been paid. 30 day notice is standard notice for renters.
Clean Before You Leave
Finally, when you are ready to move out, be sure to leave your apartment in a clean state. While you should hammer out the details in your lease of what is considered “clean”, it doesn’t hurt to wipe everything down and vacuum/sweep the floors. As well, take out all the garbage and don’t leave any furniture or personal items behind.
If you leave a major mess for your landlord they can charge you for cleaning fees. Meaning you can say goodbye to your security deposit.