One of the smart ways for renters to keep moving costs low is to avoid the common pitfalls that lead to people losing their rental security deposit. The deposit often equals one full month of rent, a big chunk of cash. Hanging onto it is a priority.
People pay a rental deposit to a landlord as a type of insurance. It’s meant to cover the landlord’s losses should a tenant damage the rental or violate the terms of a rent agreement. Once the lease is up and the tenant moves out, the landlord is expected to return the deposit.
However, there are issues that can result in the landlord keeping the security deposit. They include the following, all of which tenants should work hard to avoid.
Landlords expect normal wear and tear such as worn carpets or the color fading somewhat along the wall, especially if you’ve lived in the rental unit for many years. However, damaged wood floors, holes in the wall or furniture left behind (which forces the landlord to pay to have it removed) can lead to never getting your security deposit back.
To avoid arguments over damage, it’s a smart move to take pictures of the unit the day you move in and the day you move out so that its condition is documented. Also, hiring professional movers when you move out can prevent damage caused during your move.
Most leases specify the exact amount of advance notice a tenant must give the landlord before moving out. Usually the time period is 60 days, although some are as short as 30 and as long as 90. Not doing this correctly can result in your losing your rental deposit. This one can be avoided by knowing your lease in detail. Make sure you read it all the way through!
One great way to ensure you will get your rental deposit back is to work with landlords, not against them, when they try to show the apartment or townhouse. Some tenants can prove disruptive by leaving a mess in the rental or insisting that they be there for every showing. Avoid this by working with landlords to shorten the time they will go without a tenant. This can go a long way to getting your deposit back.
Some tenants will leave easily fixable issues when they move out, such as holes in the walls where they hung a painting. Or they will move out without giving the rental a thorough cleaning. In many cases, a lease will include provisions that call for tenants to do these things.
Make sure to fill small holes with putty and even get the paint number from your landlord so you can paint over any problem spots. Also, even if you must do it yourself, clean the place from top to bottom, especially the carpets.
Without the tenant present, landlords may attribute any small issue they find to the tenant or even blame them for something that is not their fault (a loose baseboard, for example, or a sink that never drained properly).
To avoid these issues, ask the landlord to do the walkthrough with you there. If that is impossible to set up, then ask them to at least allow you to mail them a checklist that they will fill out and sign once they have inspected the property. That offers some protection against being blamed for things you did not do.
It’s best to stay on top of these issues as your move out date draws closer. With the right approach, you can avoid losing your rental deposit and keep down the cost of your move.