The process of clawing back a security deposit at the end of a lease period can often be arduous and frustrating. Oftentimes this is such a hassle that renters tend to just give up and let the landlord keep what they claim to be entitled to. However, this does not need to be the case — security deposit deductions can only legally be made if the tenant has treated their rental with ignorance and disrespect. It is important to know what types of damage is expected and covered by the landlord versus what types can cause a deduction. Making sure your landlord only keeps what they are legally entitled to will save you in the event of a dispute. Rentable suggests these tips to ensure you get every penny of your security deposit back:
1. Read the lease
Getting your entire security deposit back starts with reading the lease before you move out. Make sure to follow any termination procedures listed in the lease. You may be required to give an extended notice before moving out (typically 30-60 days prior). Oftentimes, tenants are asked to report anything broken or damaged, return anything you have changed to its original condition, and clean everything out of the property. Knowing the details of your specific contract can ease the transition from one property to the next and put the most money back in your pocket.
2. Conduct A Thorough Move In Inspection
Before moving into your new property, take a walk around the entire place, inside and out. Make sure to record the condition of everything and take special notice of damaged items, scratched or holey walls, appliances that don’t work, etc. Using Rentable’s guided inspection tool makes it easy to store photos of anything already damaged, which can save you a security deposit deduction and dispute.
3. Make Repairs As Necessary
It’s always worth making quick and cheap repairs yourself, especially when a landlord would charge more for them. To keep every bit of your security deposit, you should:
- Spackle over holes in the walls.
- Replace anything that you damaged.
- Repaint walls you have painted back to their original color.
Don’t worry about fixing things that were already damaged or broken: these items should be previously documented and should not affect your deposit.
4. Clean, Clean, Clean!
Before moving out, clean everything as thoroughly as possible. Even if there are slight damages you cannot repair, scrubbing down your apartment can earn you all of your money back and makes your landlord’s life much easier. Here are some things you can do while cleaning your property:
- Pick up trash and debris from the outside of your property if there is land associated with it.
- Scrub the floors and walls thoroughly to get rid of scuffs, dirt, and stains.
- Clean bathrooms to near perfection and disinfect all surfaces.
- Clean all kitchen appliances as best you can.
5. Be Respectful And Communicate
Building a strong relationship with your landlord makes everything easier. If they like you, you will be much more likely to receive your security deposit in full. Make sure you don’t wait to communicate with your landlord about anything that gets damaged or broken so they can inspect and fix it as soon as possible. If you wait until the end of your lease to tell your landlord everything that needs to be fixed, they are much more likely to take a chunk out of your security deposit.
6. Know Your Rights
Familiarize yourself with your rights as a renter and know that a landlord may try to hold your security deposit illegally. They are not permitted to keep your security deposit without good reason and oftentimes this can lead to a tenant believing they have done something wrong. Additionally, you may be entitled to interest accrued on the deposit. Read up on your state laws to make sure you know when you are legally required to get your deposit back.
7. Take Care Of Your Property
This should go without saying. Take care of your rental property as if it is your own. Try not to be reckless just because you don't own the property. Your landlord will thank you and there is a good chance you'll end up with the full deposit back in your wallet.
8. Take All Your Belongings With You
When you move out of your rental property it is important not to leave any unwanted furniture, decorations, or garbage behind. Not only is it an easy way to tick off your landlord, but an even easier way to lose your deposit.
9. Take Precautions When You Move In
Hanging art and installing new furniture can be very exciting, but they are quick ways to scratch floors and turn your walls into Swiss cheese. Before you go at your walls with a hammer and nails, consider using sticky strip hooks which can be easily removed without a trace. Installing felt pads on the feet of tables and chairs is a good way to prevent scratching on wood floors. This way, no damage is left on any surfaces when it comes time to move out.
10. Be Sure To Pay Last Month’s Rent
Viewing your security deposit as last month’s rent can be dangerous and if it is left unpaid, your landlord may be entitled to keep your deposit. In the worst case, you may be sued for unpaid rent, especially if you have left damages to the apartment. Using Rentable to track the condition of your apartment inspires confidence that your landlord will not keep your security deposit.
As a tenant, you are responsible for your rental property’s condition, but you are not liable for reasonable wear and tear or undocumented damages. It is absolutely necessary to take care of your rental and to take notice of its previous condition and know your legal rights in the event that your landlord puts you at fault for the condition of the apartment upon moving out.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out some of Rentable’s other resources at: www.rentable.com. Our platform makes the rental process simple, transparent, and affordable for tenants and landlords alike.