How NOT to Lose Your Rental Security Deposit

Whenever renting an apartment, house, condo, etc. there is always a security deposit. These are to ensure you do not destroy the place during your stay. The landlord then keeps the deposit in case you do not fulfill your end of the contract. All this can be avoided with a few simple steps to play by the rules, and ultimately getting your money back.

1. Take photos (video) when you move in: Walk through your new rental unit with your landlord and take pictures and video (if necessary) of every room in the place. This will show what it looked like before you moved in, so if a big hole in the wall was already there, you cannot be accused of creating it.

Email the photos to your landlord that day so there is a digital trace of this documentation. If they are too big to send, use dropbox, or post them on Youtube and make it private.

2. Give ample written notice: Some leases have clauses saying how much time you have to tell your landlord before you move out. These are usually anywhere from 30 – 60 days. It will also say what type of communication is preferred. Always go with writing though, this can never fail. Just comply with whatever the lease agreement states, and if you don’t, they can nail you and say you didn’t follow the lease agreement.

If your lease doesn’t mention anything about move out, ask your landlord before you move in, and then get their answer in writing. The reason they do this is so they can get ready for their next tenants. Having an empty unit is quite costly for landlords. The more help you are to them, the more help they’ll be to you.

 3. Don’t disrupt their showings: Don’t act like Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers when Derrick is trying to sell their parents house. Landlords won’t appreciate that at all. Another few “don’ts” is leaving the house a mess, be difficult, change the locks, leave out valuables, and make the landlord work around your schedule.

Watch out for some leases that state you can be financially charged if you interfere with a landlord’s showing. You want to be accommodating, and after all, this is their property. You can also get a good reference from your landlord if you don’t piss them off.

 4. Ask for the master paint: If you’ve left a few holes in the walls by mounting TV’s and hanging paintings, you will need to fill the holes and paint over them. Spackle the holes and ask the landlord for the name brand paint and SKU. Even though the landlord will probably repaint after you move out, you want to show you repaired what little damage you made. This will make for a smooth walk-through.

5. Clean the Carpets: Lay an entry mat when you walk in the front door for feet wiping. This will prevent a lot of extra dirt being tracked into the place. Vacuum regularly, and if you can walk indoors without shoes, that’s the best thing to do. Before you move out, rent a steam cleaner to clean the carpet so it looks almost new.

6. Don’t leave anything behind: Come move out day, take EVERYTHING you own with you. The last thing they want to do is clean out your junk you left behind. You can actually lose your deposit this way quite easily. They can also still charge you rent for having your belongings on their property. Just take your stuff with you and don’t bother with the hassle.

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