Simple Tricks for Renters
A security deposit is when your landlord takes some of your money hostage, holding it to ensure your good behavior until you move out. If you return the rented property in the same condition you received it in, then you get your security deposit back. If there are any damages to the property though, that security deposit is often forfeit.
That said, here are some tips for how to ensure that you get your security deposit back.
#1: Carefully Document The Property Before You Move In
Before you even think about moving into a rental property you need to go through it with a fine-toothed comb. If there are cracks in the ceiling, stains on the carpet, or dings in the corners from moving furniture you need to report them to the landlord, write the location down in a report, and take photographs of them. This process ensures that you don’t lose your security deposit for damages that were there when you moved in.
#2: Know The Rules (And The Law)
Another reason renters may lose their security deposits is for not following the rules. If someone was renting an apartment with a no-pets policy, but decided to sneak in a cat or a dog then that person might lose the deposit. Other things like painting the walls, changing out light fixtures, etc. can lead to losing your deposit if those things are not put to rights before moving out.
Also, while most renters don’t know this, a landlord is required to give you a written explanation of why you lost your security deposit in 47 of the 50 states. Louisiana, Virginia, and North Carolina are the only locations where this isn’t true. It’s a good idea to research your local ordinances and laws to be sure that your landlord doesn’t just decide to keep your security deposit because there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
#3: Communicate With The Landlord
While having a chat with the landlord is not something on most tenants’ lists of fun things to do it can save a lot of time and trouble in the long run. If something breaks (a stair, the doorknob, a pipe, etc.) it’s important to notify the landlord as soon as possible so that there’s a report of the incident and it can be replaced quickly. Generally speaking damages that are a product of expected wear and tear (carpets getting worn, walls getting dirty, etc.) are not the tenant’s fault. If they aren’t reported quickly though, the landlord might view them as damages beyond what’s expected.
#4: Leave It Just As (Or Better) Than You Found It
While it isn’t required, some tenants make improvements to a property. Whether it’s replacing the railing or putting in a handicap accessible ramp, these improvements often weigh in favor of a renter getting a security deposit back.
Even if a renter doesn’t make improvements though, it’s a good idea to clean up the space when it’s time to move out. Moving out all of the items in a place, vacuuming the carpets and wiping down the glass doors is just common courtesy, and if the place looks squared away it’s much more likely that someone will get his or her security deposit back when the lease is over.
For more advice on how renters can protect themselves, contact us today!