So you’re moving into a new home. One thing that is often at the forefront of a new renter’s mind before they even move in is the fear of losing that security deposit. A full month’s rent is no small amount to lose. Whether you have a good relationship with your landlord or not, there can be a lot of anxiety around whether or not you will get your security deposit back at the end of your lease. I know for me I think about it every time we hang up a new decoration or scratch the floor. Even though I have a relatively good relationship with my landlord, I worry that her decision about whether we will get our security deposit back is subjective. After doing a little research on some helpful ways to ensure we get our security deposit back, I found these top four tips:
You didn’t thoroughly inspect your home at Move-in
One problem that many tenants run into is a lack of evidence showing the condition the house was in at the time of move-in. A fault my roommates and I made was not taking any pictures of the house when we moved in. Without proper documentation who is to say a window was broken before you moved in or that there were chips in the paint in the living room. The old fashion way of documenting is simply using a pen and paper and going through a checklist. While it is beneficial to do this inspection as a walkthrough with your landlord, there are plenty of options that make the whole process much easier and less time-consuming. Options such as RentCheck help ensure transparency between the landlord and lessee. RentCheck will walk you through every step of the inspection and can be done at a time when the lessee finds it convenient. Simply follow the detailed instructions and RentCheck will time stamp each picture and save it for any future reference. RentCheck can be set up by you or your landlord, so no worries if your landlord doesn’t already have an account.
You don’t know your basic rights as a tenant
Along with every lease comes some basic rights you have as a lessee. While every state has some differing laws, there are commonalities that every tenant should be aware of. Everything from privacy, to maintenance, and of course the security deposit logistics. Check out an older GetRentCheck blog post to better understand the basic rights you have as a landlord or tenant.
You ended your lease early
Things happen. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances come along and you have to change your plans. There can be two ways to avoid losing your whole security deposit if this situation arises. The first is to read your lease carefully and make sure you know the specifics of an early termination clause that should be included in the lease. This can be an important clause and will let you know any necessary steps to ensure you get your deposit back. The second is to tell your landlord as soon as you know you are going to have to leave your house. This will help avoid any confusion and will negate any mistrust. This will also lead to an open discussion as to whether there is any way to terminate the lease early and still get your deposit back. Many times the clause includes a disclaimer that a landlord should be notified no later than 30 days before you plan to vacate the house. This allows them to find new tenants as quickly as possible.
You left the landlord to clean up
Just because there are no holes in the wall or a door left off the hinge doesn’t mean your responsibility as a renter is fulfilled. If you leave your house filled with trash or with furniture you have no intention of retrieving, your landlord is entitled to charge you with the cleaning or moving fee. Typically there is a grace period of 15 days where you can come back and grab large furniture. However, check with your landlord before you leave anything behind to avoid any confusion. Depending on how large your house is, a cleaning or moving fee can add up to a hefty sum of your security deposit. There are plenty of affordable cleaning services, so it could be beneficial to spend money now so you can get some back later.
While you can’t avoid every possible scenario, keeping in mind these four points should give you some peace of mind when trying to figure out if you will or won’t get your security deposit back.