When you rent a property, the security deposit can be a large sum of cash, depending on where you live. It’s obviously ideal to get this money back at the end of your lease. Local and long distance moving can be expensive. It’s nice to have this extra cash to help balance the cost. However, many landlords find ways to keep some or all of the deposit for miscellaneous upgrades and minor repairs. It’s important to protect yourself and your money from the very beginning.
While Apartment Shopping:
Do your research! Prior to even contemplating a lease, look up the property, landlord, leasing company, etc. With the ease of the internet, there is absolutely no reason not to put Google to use. You might find some valuable information that could save you hundreds, if not thousands, in the long run. If negative reviews repeatedly come up, look elsewhere.
When You Move In:
Your landlord should give you a room checklist. If not, create one yourself. You need to go through the entire property and note damage. Write down EVERYTHING. This might seem tedious and excessive, but you need to protect your assets. While you are doing this, take pictures. Finally, make your landlord sign off on the list.
When Moving Out:
After removing your belongings and thoroughly cleaning, walk through the property a final time and take more pictures. Have your landlord walk around with you and note that you left the place in satisfactory condition.
If Your Landlord Tries to Unfairly Keep the Deposit:
If your landlord tries to keep some or all of your deposit, demand an itemized list of the charges and look up your rights. For example, if you are being charged to replace the carpet, you are probably not responsible for the full cost of replacement. That is, unless the carpet was brand new when you moved in, and you absolutely demolished it. Write all of your complaints down, and keep all emails. Always remain civil, as you may have to use these emails in the future. If you believe you are being wronged and your landlord isn’t budging, seek a lawyer and utilize small claims court. Often, the landlord will back down, not wanting to deal with the mess of court. Finally, publicize your experience. Sites like Yelp allow you to truthfully share your experiences with others, possibly saving them the hassle in the future.
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