Upon moving into a new apartment, it is customary to hand over a large fee upfront as a sort of insurance policy regarding the state of the building. In essence, the deposit is kind of like a promise from the tenants that they’ll look after the house and leave it as they found it, with the landlord returning the deposit if they’re satisfied this is the case.
Thus, strictly speaking, the deposit is never the landowners to begin with for as long as the apartment is in good condition. It is not a forward on the rent. The tenants have every right to claim the deposit back upon moving out of the apartment.
However, a lot can happen between your moving into an apartment and your moving out, and many tenants are not aware of the sorts of things that can lose them their deposit. Because we are all so nice here, we’ve compiled a short list of tips for making sure you can get your deposit on your apartment back when you move out.
Know The Law and Your Rights.
Do some quick homework on local state and municipal laws regarding the various rights of tenants and the laws that relate to renting property. In general laws will favor the landlord over you, but there are some laws that specifically protect tenants from abuse by their landlords.
One of the main laws is that your landlord cannot keep your deposit without any explanation. Remember: it is your money. However there are a surprising number of tenants who never realise this, and thus never question it.
Of course, this varies from location to location. There are exceptions and loopholes to this law depending where you are. Studying the local laws will keep your one step ahead, and allow you to bring legal weight down on your landlord if they try to keep hold of your deposit illicitly.
Read Your Lease Twice. Then Read It Again.
As soon as you move into your apartment, go over the conditions of your lease with a fine-toothed comb. Make sure that you know and understand everything that’s expected of you while renting the apartment. If necessary, go over it with your landlord, so both of you are on the same page.
Also, be aware that leases are not fixed; you can change them to a degree. If, for example, you find a clause that’s a little unreasonable or difficult to keep to, you can suggest a change to the landlord and try to reach a compromise. You can even drop conditions entirely in this manner, just make sure that it is all agreed to first.
Make Notes on the Condition of the Apartment As You Found It
Go through the apartment and thoroughly inspect every room, making notes on any damages or defects and taking photo evidence as well. Show these to your landlord, and let them know that if they do not do a walkthrough with you in at least two weeks you’ll assume they have signed off on your assessment. Keep a copy for your personal references.
If you move out of your apartment, and your landlord tries to pin a damaged room on you that was already in that state when you moved in, you can use these documents to back your claim.
Report Any Damages or Changes Immediately
If any damages occur during your tenancy, or arrange to have a room modified somehow, make sure you alert the landlord immediately. In the latter case, make sure they’ve okayed the modifications as well. As always, take photos and keep copies of any communications between you and your landlord.
Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
In addition to this, make sure you keep your apartment as clean as possible. Clean up any stains on the walls and fixtures, dust every surface, and do thorough housecleaning to ensure that the apartment is spic and span. Your landlord may and will charge you if you’ve allowed the apartment to suffer a build-up of grime and dirt during your stay.
Likewise, if you have pets, make sure that you don’t only just clean up after them, but also prevent or fix any damages they may do to the apartment, such as scratched floorboards or urine stains. Doing so will better protect your deposit.
On Moving Out, Return the Apartment Better Than You Found It
Clean thoroughly before moving out, behind every piece of furniture and kitchen appliance, and down to the last kitchen wall tile. Scrub every appliance and fixture clean too, such as the shower or the oven.
Likewise, if any changes were made that are not to be permanent, such as a repainted wall or installed AC unit, make sure that they are reversed immediately. If you’ve used nails or tacks to hang up posters or paintings, remove them immediately and smoothly putty and paint over the holes left behind.
Do Not Be Trusting
Do not assume that just because a landlord was nice or had a seemingly good rapport with you that they’ll automatically give your deposit back when you move out of the apartment. Do not trust them to return it until it is in your hands (or bank account).
If your landlord tries to rob you of your deposit, do not take it lying down. Challenge every false or suspicious charge made when moving out, and if necessary do not be afraid to take them to court. Once more, that deposit is your money. The landlord has no right to swindle it from you. Most of the time, simply raising a polite complaint will be enough to get them to relent and hand your deposit over. Usually, they expect you to take it lying down.
Christian Mills is a freelance writer who discusses a wide variety of topics, including things as mundane as making sure a move goes without a hitch. To make sure your move is perfect, he highly recommends contracting the services of movinonmovers.com. You can learn more about Christian on Google+.