5 Tips on How to Not Lose Your Security Deposit
Life as a renter has both ups and downs, especially when it comes to money matters. When you’re renting an apartment, there are many ways to save money and cut down on costs. Yet there are some costs you cannot disregard, among the most important ones is, of course, your security deposit.
This is a sum of money that acts as a guarantee that you will not damage the apartment beyond repair, and the landlord collects the money to use as a backup in case anything goes awry.
However, there is always an uncertainty related to whether or not you will ever see this money again.
To cut down on that doubt, here are some tips on how to get back your security deposit:
Document the condition of the apartment before moving in and moving out
You cannot be expected to make the place better over time. The agreement is clear: do not make it worse. That’s why it is very important that you and your landlord both share the same notion of the condition of the rental from the start.
Assess the initial state of the apartment by taking pictures, videos, and notes. Next, share them with your landlord to make sure you will not pay for any preexisting damage. Get the acknowledgment in writing and dated so that there is no misunderstanding of the situation. Document the condition of the apartment before you move out as well.
Pictures, videos, and notes sent to your landlord as proof of the good condition is a safety net. It is especially effective to compare the pictures side by side. It is also helpful to add the written permission from the landlord to pictures if any modifications have been made to the apartment.
Know your rights and your responsibilities
Before you move in, discuss the lease agreement thoroughly with your landlord; make sure you both understand your rights and your responsibilities. You should also know the legislation and the renter’s rights for your state and make sure the lease is in compliance.
For any modification, you want to make to your home, get your landlord’s approval in writing so that you won’t be punished afterwards.
It is also imperative to be on the same page when it comes to what constitutes irreparable damage or what can cause your loss of the deposit. For example, will your landlord charge you for nail holes from hanging pictures as long as it is not excessive? Discuss expectations and ask questions to leave no room for doubt.
Be mindful of your pets
If you are renting a pet-friendly apartment, you’re probably going to have to pay an extra deposit to cover the damage caused by them. This kind of damage is almost inevitable, and you should prepare for that. Know your pet and understand their behavior in order to prevent as much damage as you can.
Install scratching posts for your cats to sharpen their claws and make sure they have the proper conditions to mind their business, so as to not damage the carpets or furniture. Invest in rugs and carpets to prevent dog-nail scratches on wood floors and have plenty of chewy toys around so that they won’t chew on furniture or appliances.
If accidents do occur, try to do damage control on the most prominent issues. Use professional carpet cleaners with pet enzymes to get out nasty odors. Moreover, make sure you dry the carpet properly before enclosing the space since that can lead to worse smells. If walls suffer damage, think about repainting or patching the spots, where needed. Just make sure to use the same paint color already on the walls.
The most obvious thing to do if you want the best chance to get your security deposit back is to clean.
This is not the kind of “parents visiting” cleaning, so think about investing in a cleaning service to get to all the hard to reach spots.
Attention to detail is likely to win you some points in the landlord’s eyes.
If you don’t want to pay someone to clean your home, make it sparkle by removing all stains, cleaning the carpets and the furniture, and getting rid of anything that might cause bad odors. To make it look extra clean, polish the appliances and the floors, and remove the junk that accumulates in corners or under and behind the furniture.
Not reaching this level of clean might be tolerated by some landlords, since it is the normal wear and tear, but it might be helpful to both your landlord and your own cause. It is also very important to not leave anything of yours behind, since disposing of it may be costly for the landlord, and therefore, reduce your chances at the security deposit.
Leave on a positive note
Your relationship with the landlord can influence–although not to a large degree–whether or not you’re getting your money back. Giving plenty of notice before you move out and doing your best to leave the apartment in a good condition will help you.
Although not having a guarantee for the return of your security deposit is tough, don’t let that stress you out. Adopt an attitude that focuses on care and attention in your daily routines and understand the consequences of your actions. At the end of your lease, if you’ve been a good and respectful tenant, there’s no reason for the landlord to withhold the deposit.