How To Get Your Security Deposit Back

MoneyWhen you’ve just landed a new apartment, the security deposit is something you want to put aside, but you’ll eventually have to deal with it.  But until that time comes, it’s easy to be distracted with decorating, meeting the neighbors and celebrating your new place.  However, you need to be proactive so you can help ensure that you’ll get that money back when moving day comes.  I recently came across an article with six important questions to ask before you sign your lease that can help you save some money in the long run, listed below:

Does your landlord want the place returned spotless? Your landlord could be the type who meticulously checks for cleanliness.  They might expect a squeaky-clean oven, microwave and fridge.  Find out by asking your landlord what they expect at move-out time.  If you’re not good at cleaning, you can pay a service to come in, which can control how much you spend instead of leaving a big mess for the landlord to clean.  

What is normal wear and tear? If you’ve lived somewhere for several years, it won’t look as good as when you first moved in.  The carpet will show wear, the paint will fade and there might be some small nicks on the walls.  These are normal wear and tear, and the landlord shouldn’t charge you for that.  But if it’s excessive and outright damage has occurred, that’s going to come out of your security deposit.

What’s the charge for repainting? Were the walls in your rental just painted, but you already know that you just can’t live there without a new color?  If you want to paint the walls a new color, you need permission from the landlord first.  Then, you’ll either need to paint the walls back to their original color before moving out or let the landlord take a repainting fee from your security deposit.  Unless you know how to prep walls for painting like a pro and won’t flick paint in the apartment, then let your landlord take care of it.  

Who is responsible for lawn maintenance? Lawn maintenance is a tricky area for renters, which should be spelled out explicitly in the lease.  If it isn’t, then the landlord is generally responsible for it when you’re renting a multifamily unit.  If you rent a single-family home, then you’re probably responsible for the upkeep of the grounds.  But what you consider upkeep might not be what the landlord has in mind, so if you’re in doubt try to maintain the property as if it were your own house.

What about pets? Pets can cause damage, which is why some landlords don’t allow them.  Those who do might charge a “pet deposit” for any pet-related damage.  If you weren’t charged this, then the landlord can use the security deposit to repair any pet damage.  

What if something breaks? If you spot a problem, then tell your landlord right away.  If you neglect to do so and said problem snowballs, then you could be responsible for excessive damage.  


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