When you move into a new apartment, you should expect to pay a security deposit. This is usually the same amount as one month’s rent and, theoretically, will pay for any damages against the apartment you are responsible during the lease agreement. If you leave the apartment as healthy or perhaps better than when you moved in, you should plan on seeing your security deposit returned to you. While a deposit should be returned to you as long as the apartment meets the standards met in your lease, it can be difficult depending on your landlord. Never assume your landlord will willingly return your deposit to you. Always read the lease, know your rights as a renter, and don’t be afraid to ask your landlord for your deposit if you know you rightfully deserve it.
Read and Reread the Lease
Treat the lease like a syllabus, read it for competency and reread it to make sure you didn’t overlook any specific details. Prior to signing and returning the lease to the landlord, you should have read the lease numerous times and sought professional assistance, from a lawyer or attorney, for any parts you didn’t understand. It is imperative you fully understand all the rules in the lease and especially the security deposit policy. Most of the time, but not always, renters are not liable for commonplace depreciation of a rental property. If not stated in the lease, you may need to ask your landlord if they have any requirements, such as cleaning the carpet, washing windows, and even filling in any holes prior to vacating the unit.
Know Your Legal Protection
Despite differing state statutes, the majority of states throughout the country require landlords to provide a reason for withholding a security deposit from their tenant. Many renters do not see their deposits returned to them due to failure to understand the rules or educate themselves about the legal protections they have. It is imperative to know your state’s statutes. Some statutes demand landlords give tenants a timetable for returning their deposit. Better yet, some states will order the landlord to pay interest for failure to return a deposit in a timely manner.
Keep a Record of All Damages You Are Not Responsible For
Prior to moving in, take pictures of the entire apartment. Even the smallest blemish in your future unit needs to be documented so you don’t end up penalized for it. After you have photographed everything, type up a document stating all the damage in the unit you didn’t cause. Save the document in multiple spots, on your computer, a flash drive, and cloud if you can. Print the document off, guide the landlord through each damaged area, and make sure your landlord signs and dates the document. Upon moving out, this will assist you in the process of seeing your security deposit returned to you.
Be an Exceptional Tenant
Take care of the space entrusted to you! Clean up messes and remove stains when they happen. If something breaks, notify your landlord immediately via text or email so you can prove you were proactive about it. Responsible tenants receive their deposit if the apartment is in the same condition as they found it.