Renting a new apartment can be quite expensive. Aside from rent itself, there are lots of miscellaneous expenses you might not have thought about. One of the biggest is the security deposit, as almost all landlords ask for that lump sum upfront. Basically, if you damage something, it gets deducted from your deposit. The good news is that you can get it back when you move out…if you’re careful about it.
A security deposit can sometimes be up to two times your monthly rent. It’s not a small number but many tenants don’t take it seriously enough, since most just assume they’ll get it back at the end of their lease if nothing catastrophic happens. Some landlords, though, will nitpick at everything and try to keep as much of the security deposit as they can. Follow these tips to make sure you get all of your security deposit back:
Do a Thorough Inspection Before Moving In
Make sure you do a thorough inspection of the property before you move in. Don’t just rely on your “naked eye”. Check and make sure all the appliances are working. Test all the faucets and plumbing fixtures. Look for any cracks in the walls or ceilings. The bottom line is: if something doesn’t look right, tell your landlord about it. You don’t want to be blamed for the damage later on.
Take Pictures of Everything
On the day of move-in (before you get all your stuff in), takes pictures of the entire property. You want to document what the space looked like the day your lease began. One of the biggest issue tenants come across is being charged for damage that was already there when they moved in. Luckily, you now have physical photographic proof.
Read Your Lease Entirely
Leases are long and boring. That’s why most tenants don’t read them carefully. But it’s a legally binding document so make sure your read your lease entirely and understand every sentence that’s in there. The lease should cover things like who’s responsible for utilities and whether or not you’re allowed to have pets. If anything is questionable, don’t sign the papers and consult with a legal professional.
Always Ask for Permission First
Want to paint your walls another color? Not so fast. Make sure you ask your landlord for permission first. It may be covered in your lease but you always want to be safe rather than sorry. If you need to get special approval to do a modification to the property, be sure to get it in writing.
Understand Your Rights
Tenants’ rights are different in every state so read up on what your rights are. There are bound to be landlords that will try to charge you for every single little thing, but normal wear and tear isn’t something that you should have to pay for. If your landlord is being unfair, understand what your legal rights are. You shouldn’t have to pay for something that wasn’t your fault and there are laws protecting tenants from just that.
Have you ever had a problem getting your security deposit back? Tell us your story below!