Your apartment deposit is supposed to be returned to you once you ensure that you meet the conditions of your lease. Your cash will come in handy when you move to your new place.
However, sometimes getting your full security deposit back is easier said than done. The tips below will help you figure out how you can make it more likely for your landlord to return your full deposit once you move out.
1. Be Proactive With Everyday Maintenance
Always make sure the property is in excellent condition when you leave. This is sometimes a hassle, since accidents happen.
However, even minor damage can result in your landlord keeping a portion of your deposit, and in many cases your landlord may charge you more than if you were to fix the issues yourself. This is especially true for minor problems that anyone can address.
You may think that a light bulb that is burned out should fall under normal wear and tear, but your landlord might not see it that way. The same applies to small issues like holes in the walls left behind by nails. Just to be safe, it is important to fix any issues you find.
You should also clean the house before moving. Make sure the kitchen backsplash is free of grease, wipe down all windows and even ensure that all the ceiling fans are sparkling.
The property must be in good condition, or any damage that wouldn’t occur with regular wear and tear could be taken out of your rent deposit.
2. Keep Your Lease Safe
You should ensure that you keep your copy of the lease agreement in a safe place. Refer to it regularly to check that you’re meeting the conditions required for you to get your apartment deposit back.
Before you sign the lease, read it through carefully in its entirety. Pay particular attention to the section that describes what you need to do to get your cash back. If that section is missing, be sure to bring it up with your landlord to avoid any difficulties later on.
In fact, you should feel free to ask your landlord any question about the lease before signing. A good landlord will answer questions, address errors and provide you with a new document if necessary.
If your prospective landlord does not want to correct the document, it can sometimes be an indication that you need to look at a different property. Do not hesitate to ask your landlord about any terms you don’t understand, and be sure that you understand what is required of you.
3. Keep Careful Records
If you want to get your security deposit back, it helps if you have documents proving that you left the property in good condition. Take pictures of each area in the residence on the first day that you arrive. If possible, do this in your landlord’s presence, so you can refer to it in the future if necessary.
You should inspect all lighting fixtures, appliances, plumbing fixtures and devices as soon as you enter the property. Photographs, videos and written records should be kept of anything that needs repairs.
Let your landlord know immediately when you find an issue. Then, send them a follow-up email for your records that contains a list of the issues you found during your walk-through so that you both have it in writing. If necessary, print a copy for your records.
If you have not started using the property and the damage is not your fault, the landlord should conduct any necessary repairs. This should not affect your rent deposit if you did not cause the damage.
4. Return All Devices
Your apartment security deposit may only be returned if you give back all the devices you used while you occupied the premises. There may be things that you will genuinely forget or misplace in the rush to move, so ensure that you make a list.
Once you have returned everything, double-check with your landlord to make sure there is nothing else you need to give back. It’s important to get them to state that you don’t have any of their property in your possession.
Check that you’ve given back the following:
- Garage door openers
- Gate padlocks
- Gate access cards
5. Fix Appliances (If Necessary)
If you are wondering how to get a security deposit back in cases where a stove or another appliance has been damaged by someone in your household, there are several options.
First, you could simply fix the appliance yourself. If the cost is negligible, it may be worth it. Keep your receipts for the repairs and any cleaning, so you can prove that the jobs were done. The receipts will also show how much you spent.
If you need to replace the appliance, be sure to check with your landlord first, as they may have preferences about the brand, color, dimensions, etc.
6. Maintain the Original Features
You may think that the dining room would look better in another color, but your landlord might not agree. What you consider an improvement may be regarded as damage, since your landlord may have to pay to undo any changes that you make.
Ask your landlord about anything that you want to improve. They may be on board with it. But in case they are not, it is better to ask first, since unfortunately some landlords take advantage of improvements as a chance to take a chunk out of your security deposit.
How Much Time Do Landlords Have to Return a Security Deposit?
In most states, a landlord should get a deposit back to you within two weeks. The time in which this should be done depends on state law, but you should usually get an itemized description of any repair costs mailed to you within two to three weeks.
In some cases, you may be required to give your landlord 30 days notice if you plan to leave, especially if you are doing so in the middle of your lease. If you don’t satisfy this requirement, your landlord may be authorized to withhold part of your deposit in lieu of rent.
Can I Get My Security Deposit Back If I Did Not Sign a Lease?
It is usually much easier to get back your rent deposit if you signed a lease agreement that clearly outlined your responsibilities. That’s because you can demonstrate that you satisfied the terms. At the end of the day, a lease is more for your protection than for your landlord’s.
If you didn’t sign a lease, do not give up hope. Your landlord should not have a problem with returning a security deposit if the residence is in excellent condition, and you can present receipts for any cleaning or repairs done.
If you are planning to leave and you did not sign a lease, talk to your landlord. Find out what their requirements are for returning your money. It helps you to do exactly what’s needed before you leave, so you can get your cash. Remember that in most cases, you are allowed to be present at the final inspection of the property.