How To Ensure You’ll Get Your Security Deposit Back

Cleaning up the apartment

By Aurora M.

Searching for a new home or apartment to rent can be really difficult. You have a mental list of all of the things you want to have in your new place, and it’s hard not to compare each new place you look at to the apartment you’re leaving. One of the hardest parts of picking a new place is that once you’ve selected it, you have to pay a considerable amount of money in the form of a security deposit. A security deposit is given to your landlord as a sort of guarantee that you’ll take good care of their property. If you do adhere to the lease and take care of the property, you get that money back. If you don’t, however, then the landlord keeps that money to pay for any necessary repairs.

Pay attention to your lease

Obviously, you want to keep your security deposit. In the ideal situation, you’d be able to use that money for a new security deposit at your new rental property. When you’re signing your lease, make sure that you’re paying attention to what you’re actually signing. Some landlords aren’t very transparent, and they have a lot of fine print that they like to skim over. If your lease is incredibly long and your landlord doesn’t take the time to walk through all of the points with you, it might be a good idea to ask if you can go over it privately before signing it.

Some of the things to look out for are anything that tries to place all potential blame on the tenant. For instance, if the water heater breaks within a few weeks of you moving in, are they going to place the blame on you and make you pay for the repair? Or if you discover cockroaches in your apartment, will they pay for pest control or will they say the pests are there as a result of your negligence and make you pay? Make sure that they are willing to pay for any pre-existing damages or issues, especially if they’re issues you can’t see immediately.
Dog playing on carpet

Adhere to the restrictions

You won’t get your deposit back if you paint all of the walls in your apartment black. Some landlords will agree to let you make permanent modifications, as long as you get their permission first. If painting and other major redecoration plans are important to you, it’s worth asking your landlord before you sign the lease if they’d be willing to negotiate as long as they approve all of the changes. Other landlords will let you make small changes, such as swapping out light fixtures, as long as you save the original fixtures for them to put back in when you leave. If the lease clearly says that you can’t make holes in the walls with anything bigger than a thumbtack, but you decide to bolt your television to the wall anyway, the repairs to fix the wall will probably come out of your security deposit.

Maintain the property

Just like when you’re a guest at someone else’s home, it’s important to leave your rental property the way you found it. Leaving it trashed and dirty will not be appreciated. Make sure that you take care of it as you go by regularly cleaning and repairing anything that gets broken. Trying to just clean everything at the end is a lot like cramming for a test: not only is it much more difficult, but usually people can tell that you saved it until the last minute. Don’t let mold accumulate in your bathroom for months, or let grease and dust build up on your kitchen walls and backsplash for years.

Know about special care

You might move into a property that has certain installments that need some TLC. For example, perhaps you picked the place because you love its kitchen and the granite countertops. However, as this article states, granite needs special care. You might not know that because you’re not actually the one who bought the granite and retained the owner’s guide. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources online now for you to understand how to best maintain your dishwasher, hardwood floors, and any other special features.

Respect the property

Signing the contract
Sometimes, it can be hard to follow the rules that your landlord has asked you to follow. Your property is strictly pet free, but your friend just had the cutest litter of puppies, so it would be okay to bring one home, as long as you don’t tell your landlord, right? Unfortunately, no. If you want to do something that you know it’s explicitly forbidden, you always need to ask them first. Some landlords may be willing to bend the rules slightly, on a case by case basis. But if you think you’ll be able to trick them and they won’t notice, trust that they will notice. Whether you forget to clean up after your dog one day, or the dog has one too many accidents on the carpet and you just can’t get the smell out, disrespecting the guidelines that your landlord has set is an easy way to say goodbye to your security deposit forever.

After you move out, your landlord may have only a very short period of time to turn around the property before new tenants move in. If you’ve broken the rules and the apartment needs serious repairs, it could mean costly repairs and having to pay to expedite these repairs before the new tenants arrive. Often times, these extra repairs will get billed to you. So, always be courteous and respectful of both the property and the manager.

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