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Security deposit is the money that’s difficult to part with
when you move into a rental property. Though some landlords will keep you
waiting and forget to return your security deposit when you move out, most of
the landlords are good and actually care about returning your money. The only
thing you should do is be a good tenant to them and they’ll return the
Always be friendly towards your landlords, pay rent on time, and don’t damage anything in the house, failing which you lessen the chances of getting your security deposit back when you’re moving out. It’s because any damage and unpaid rent will be deducted from your security deposit before it’s returned to you. There are many other factors that can withhold your security deposit back, but if there was no fault on your end, know your rights and claim your hard-earned money. Here are some tips that will help you get that security deposit back.
CALCULATE MY MOVE
There are some things to know before you move into a rental
property, things which you cannot change after you have signed the agreement
and moved in. Everything that looks perfect on the surface can have flaws on
the inside, like moving into a perfect top-floor apartment only to know its
roof leaks in the monsoons and winters. Whatever flaw you come across should be
communicated to your landlord at the earliest; this saves you from losing some
of your security deposit for the damage you didn’t do. Here are some tips to
avoid circumstances like the one we discussed:
If a homeowner is showing you around his/her property rather
than having a broker do it, take full benefit of this. Carefully check all over
the house for any issues, spend some time in every room, and look for any
damage. Check the walls, floors, walls, doors, and windows for any damage; try
out all appliances in the presence of the homeowner, this way the owner will be
made aware of anything amiss in the house. Once you move in, the landlord will
not blame you for any damage which was already present before you arrived.
When you go over to check out a property you plan to move
to, carry a fully charged mobile. Take tons of pictures and videos of any
damages, discolored walls, defective appliances, or anything else amiss in the
house. Send these pictures and videos to your landlord over email so there is
proof of damage before you moved in. If you were given any document by the
landlord to record the appearance of your property, fill it and keep a copy
with you before handing it over to the landlord.
It’s of utmost importance that you read and understand the
lease agreement before you sign it. Be sure about any additions like if there
are any additional deposits if you plan to move with your pet. Go word-by-word,
there are more things in that lease than just the amount and due date of your
Say if there is a clause around renovating the house, that
you are supposed to return the house to its original condition before you move
out. In case you fail to do so and refuse to pay for the repairs the landlord
had to incur to bring the house to the original condition, they can cut the
expenses incurred from your security deposit. To be sure your deposit comes
back to you in whole, read every line of the lease carefully before signing. If
something strikes you as unusual, don’t hesitate to bring this up with the
Knowing a couple of things before you move out will make
your transition easier. Small mistakes like leaving behind an old sofa or
bigger mistakes like not paying your last month’s rent can cost you your
security deposit. Leave no room for errors so you get a refund of every penny
of the security deposit.
You must have read the lease in detail before signing it,
it’s time to read it again. Most people live in rented homes for one or two
years, now that is a long period, if you have lived that long in your home, you
must’ve forgotten the details of your lease agreement. Read it again for the notice
period you should give before moving out. There is a 30 days notice period in
the usual cases, but some properties have a longer 60 days notice period. Check
if you need to find a replacement renter before you move out, if a clause in
your lease mentions something like this, talk to your landlord about it.
Often the notice period gets longer the longer you stay at
your rented property, like one month's notice if you stayed for a year, 60 days
if you stayed for 2 years, and so on. Notify your landlord about your move in
writing. Proof that you notified your landlord well beforehand is necessary so
they don’t refuse this fact later on.
Even if you have a pretty friendly relation with your landlord, never forget to notify over channels like emails. If you move out without notifying your landlord, you’ll be liable to pay a month’s rent. Think about it, it’s inconvenient for the landlord if you move out without notifying at least a month in advance; it does take a long time to find a new tenant, the loss of which can be claimed from your security deposit.
See also: How to Tell Your Landlord You are Moving
Many renters are under the impression that they aren’t
supposed to pay the last month’s rent as it will be covered by the security
deposit. Unless it is clearly mentioned in the lease agreement that your last
month’s rent is covered, do pay it and request a receipt, safely keep this
receipt as proof if something goes wrong. If you don’t pay the last month’s
rent and expect the security deposit to cover it, things can go downhill if
your security deposit is used to pay some damages you left behind. Your
landlord can then sue you for unpaid rent, you sure don’t want to end up in
Often, landlords do make it a point to visit before a tenant
moves out. If yours isn’t taking such a step, invite them over. Walk the
landlord through the house, let them ensure you didn’t do any damage to the
house. If you did damage something, be frank and point it out, ask if repairs
are needed and which areas of the house need to be cleaned up for the new
tenant. This way your landlord won’t be in the dark and you won’t have surprise
repairs later on, because surprises like that cast a bad shadow on your
Once you have accessed all the damages with your landlord, spend your 30 or 60 days notice period repairing all the damages. Paint the walls, patch up holes in the wall, repair the roof, replace lightbulbs, seal drafty windows, and so on. We know sealing drafty windows doesn’t count as repairs and wins you no brownie points in the eyes of your landlord since the landlord won’t even know you sealed drafts. But such a gesture is an unspoken niceness towards the next tenants, you’ll mentally thank someone who did it when you move to a new place, they will do the same! Take pictures of the bigger repairs that you did, or repairs you called professionals over for and send them to your landlord, this demonstrates your efforts to the landlord and keeps them in the loop.
Never leave anything behind, if it costs your landlord money to dispose of what you leave behind, the amount will be deducted from your security deposit. If there is furniture or old appliances you don’t want anymore, sell it off or donate it. If it’s too bad to be donated, like the springs coming out of your couch, don’t leave it in the living room and make it a problem for the landlord, haul it to a recycling center or drive it to the dump. Check all the closets, drawers, and cabinets for belongings you forgot. If you leave small items or boxes, you’ll be asked to drive back to collect them or your landlord will simply dispose of them.
Before you move out, scrub the entire house properly. Send
the carpets for dry cleaning, mop the floors, wipe the walls with a wet cloth,
clean the areas behind furniture and appliances and scrub the cabinets after
emptying and packing your stuff. Pay special attention to the kitchen, it tends
to get real messy.
If the kitchen appliances belong to your landlord and you’re supposed to leave them behind, scrub the refrigerator, oven, and dishwasher well, their insides can have years of deposits ever since you moved in. When it comes to the bathroom, plain soap and water won’t help, clean stains in the bathtub and sink with a bleach pen or white paint. When you leave your rented property this sparkling, it will have a good impression on your landlord, making them return your security deposit sooner.
See also: Best Home Deep Cleaning Services
Gather all the keys right from the smallest closet to the
large gate, and hand them over to your landlord before you drive off to your
new home. If you take any key with you, the landlord will incur expenses to get
replacement keys or get new locks fitted in, and that expense will be deducted from,
you guessed it, your security deposit.
You won’t be handed over your security deposit on the same
day you move out. Your landlord will run checks around the house, once the
inspection is complete, the landlord will send your deposit to your address.
But expect no security deposit if you left no address at all, as simple as it
is. When you mail your landlord to notify them about your move, always include
your forwarding address in it. In case you decide to go on a backpacking trip
across the state or move in temporarily with a friend and have no fixed
forwarding address to give, you can always give your parents’ home address.
Know the rights you have as a tenant and advocate it if some
actions of your landlord are unjustified. In worst-case scenarios, your
landlord might try to hold back your security deposit even when it’s no fault
of yours. Learn to recognize when you are being cheated, which will be possible
if you know your laws well. Go through your state’s laws about security
deposits and tenant rights. If your landlord had to do repairs to any damage,
demand an itemized list of deductions from your security deposit. Be firm about
your demands and don’t hesitate to speak out when something’s wrong.
This is a no-brainer, having a friendly relation with your
landlord will make things easier. The landlord is more likely to ignore small
mistakes on your side and give back your security deposit in full. But this is
a tip you should follow right from the start when you move in because it will
be suspicious if you start behaving too friendly towards the end of your notice
period. This will make things difficult rather than doing the opposite.
We know you give up a chunk of your savings when you pay a
security deposit. Remember these tips for every rental property you move into.
Tread carefully and your path down rental living will be much smoother.
How Much Should I
Save Up For A Security Deposit?
Usually, the security deposit is equal to one month of rent.
When you move into a rental property, you’ll be expected to pay the security
deposit, first month’s rent, and last month’s rent, in most cases. That means
you need to save up to 3 times one month’s rent before moving in. The security
deposits are based on different factors like state laws, market competition,
amenities on the property, and the cost of monthly rent.
Can I Take Legal Action If I Don’t Receive My Security Deposit?
Yes, you totally can and should. Appoint a lawyer and file a lawsuit. If you don’t want to hire a lawyer, you can file a claim in a small claims court. When you are doing it by yourself, you need to send a demand letter and incur a filing fee. Your case will be stronger if you go with proof of your notifying letter, evidence of the home’s condition in photos, and a witness to testify the condition of the home. There are high chances you will recover your security deposit along with interest.
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