Moving into a rented apartment involves a lot of expenses, but knowing that some of them are refundable may be a bit comforting. When you are about to sign a lease with your landlord, you should set aside certain amount of money for a big upfront payment – first month’s rent along with the security deposit. If you are abiding by the rules and leaving the apartment in good condition you may have your security deposit back when you decide to move out.
How can I retrieve my security deposit?
– Understand your rights and responsibilities.
Although regulations may vary by location, in most cases a landlord is obliged by law to return a security deposit, unless he provides a written account of charges to your security deposit. Unfortunately, not all landlords are willing to play by the rules hoping that their tenants will just go away and forget about it soon. However, tenants are supposed to know that they can take legal action and go to small claims court, but let’s consider it the last option. There is probably a more peaceful solution to the issue that involves an open communication and negotiating. If you eventually decide to take your landlord to court, you need to be sure that the whole situation is worth the time, money and effort you will spend throughout the process.
– Have your rental agreement in writing and make sure you are familiar with all the conditions and rules you are expected to comply with. Also, a lease should include the list of the items that should be fixed as well as the description of the general condition of the apartment.
If your landlord is not willing to fill you in on what it takes for a tenant to regain his/her security deposit, make sure you stay with us and read on.
– Inspect the whole place before you move in and ask your landlord to fix some existing faults and malfunctions.
Go through the apartment and take some photos that may come in handy in case some unexpected problems arise. Keep records of all existing malfunctions and broken or damaged items.
– Keep the apartment clean and tidy. It goes without saying that you need to take good care of the rented property as if it was your own. Leave it in the best possible condition, especially if you have a pet. Also, if you are investing in some home improvements, make sure you document the changes in writing. Should you consider performing some repair works you need to obtain a permission from your landlord in advance. Remember that it will be easier for you to recover your security deposit if you maintain the apartment properly and fix the damage you have caused before you move out.
– Depending on the local regulations, landlords are allowed a reasonable amount of time (a couple of weeks) to return the security deposit. In case you don’t receive your security deposit within the predefined time-frame, you can send a demand letter to your landlord stating all the facts and evidence you collected during your tenancy.
If your landlord claims that you are not qualified to get the security deposit back, he should provide an itemized list of deductions from the deposit. Also, landlords are allowed by law to use the deposit to cover unpaid rent and utility bills or damaged goods.
– When you decide to move out from a rented apartment, notify your landlord in advance in accordance with the terms of the lease. If you need to leave the apartment before the predefined date, talk to your landlord as soon as possible and try to negotiate. The most convenient solution would be to find other renters that would occupy the unit.