A Renter’s Dilemma – Getting Your Security Deposit Back

You’ve been renting an apartment and now you’re moving to a new one, but your landlord’s giving you a hard time about your security deposit. Actually, this is a fairly common problem. When you rent an apartment, you’re normally required to put down a security deposit, which in many cases, is equivalent to a full month’s rent. It comes with the understanding that it may be refunded after you move out, providing you didn’t trash the place. If you protected your apartment and belongings with renters insurance, a refund should be the least of your worries.

Your landlord can hold on to all or part of your security deposit for a number of reasons – some valid, some not. That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with your lease agreement and the specifics of your state’s regulations with regards to renters’ rights and landlord responsibilities. Knowing the facts might keep the security deposit from turning into a heated dispute and improve your chances of getting it back.

While it isn’t required, depending on the condition of the apartment you’re moving into, it may be a good idea to point out existing damage to the landlord or leasing office prior to moving into it and take photos, if necessary, to keep a visual record of cracked windows, broken tile, stained or chipped sinks, as well as torn carpeting to prove you weren’t the cause of the problem items. Create a checklist if the landlord doesn’t provide you with one. List all visible damage, make a copy, sign them both…and give one of the copies to the landlord to place in your tenant file.

Another way to avoid losing your security deposit is by following the terms of your rental agreement. If you’re agreement specifies a 30 days’ “intent to vacate” written notice before moving out, then do so. Failure to abide with this requirement will more than likely cost you part or all of your security deposit…and, the landlord will be well within his rights to do it.

So, don’t make it easy for your landlord to withhold your security deposit. If you were provided with multiple keys, garage door remotes or any other item belonging to the property owner…return them or you could be liable for replacement costs, which will be directly deducted from your deposit.

Because a substantial amount of money is usually at risk with a security deposit, avoid using the excuse that you’re too busy to do a final walk-through of your rental unit. Request it ahead of time so your landlord can see, with you present, that you’re leaving your apartment in the same state it was in when it was first rented out to you. Allowing for what is considered regular wear and tear, empty it of all your belongings, clean as much as you can, and run a vacuum over the carpeting. Then, do the walk-through.

If, for some reason, you can’t be present or the landlord declines to join you in the walk-through, you run the risk of possibly being held accountable for things you aren’t responsible for. In such a case, once you have vacated the premises and have left your unit in good shape, take more pictures. This can contradict any negative report or assessment your landlord may come up with, making you more likely to get your security deposit back.

Finally, don’t forget to leave your forwarding address so your landlord has someplace to send your check, which should arrive by mail in 30 to 60 days. After all, you can use the money to pay for renters insurance at your new place.

When you do, make sure you’re getting the best rate on your renters insurance. Why not get a free renters insurance quote today?

Have you had a difficult time getting your security deposit back? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.