Not too long ago, we shared some tips about security deposits. In that post we focused on what to do if you don’t get any of it back. This week, the focus is on making sure you get your whole deposit back.
A reputable management company or landlord will walk through the apartment with you when you move in, or provide you with a move-in check list in which you record any existing damage. As you’re moving in, take pictures of any damage you might find. If your landlord didn’t walk through with you or give you a check list, those pictures will be especially important evidence and you should share them with your landlord as soon as possible.
Making sure you’re not held responsible for damage that isn’t your fault is the first step in protecting your security deposit.
It’s a good idea to ask right away about move-out procedures. Again, a reputable landlord or management company will have paperwork for this process. This paperwork work should include another checklist for you, detailing your responsibilities as you vacate. These are some of the basics generally required of tenants:
- Return all the keys
- Move out all of your personal things and leave nothing behind
- Clean everything, including appliances, inside and out
- Shampoo/steam clean carpets
- Put everything back where you found it (for example, if you took out a window screen to put in an air conditioner, replace that screen)
As long as any damage is from normal wear and tear, you are vacating at the end of your lease, you don’t owe the landlord any money, and the landlord has your forwarding address, you should get everything or almost everything back.
While they might not schedule a walk through with you when you move out, they will inspect the apartment with full knowledge of its history. Your landlord should have the age of your flooring on file, as well as your move-in sheet, and all kinds of information regarding the plumbing, heating, appliances, etc. When management inspects the vacated apartment, they’ll make sure you followed their move-out procedures and record any damage.
Once again, you should take pictures of how you left the place, and retain any receipts for carpet cleaning services or rented equipment. In fact, your landlord or management company might require copies of those invoices for their own records.
Know Your Lease
In reading your lease (which you should be given a copy of by your landlord once it’s signed), you should find a section or two about your security deposit. These sections will detail what the deposit is to be used for and when it will be returned. Here, you should also find a list of conditions that must be met for the return of the deposit.
If you have any questions or concerns about your lease or your security deposit, you should consult your landlord or management company right away. Ignorance is rarely, if ever, a get out of jail free card, so to speak.
The Return of Your Security Deposit
When your security deposit arrives in the mail, it will come with a letter detailing why certain amounts were removed. For example, if the carpet was brand new when you moved in 3 years ago and now it’s full of cigarette burns (an example of damage beyond normal wear and tear), the letter will note that x, the cost of carpet replacement, was deducted from your deposit. If a deduction doesn’t seem right to you, speak up.
Contact Prudential Realty Company to get information about our availability and our security deposits.