Renting a house or apartment comes with a number of perks. You may not be responsible for certain utilities, you have the freedom to be more mobile year after year, and if something breaks, it is typically your landlord who will deal with the task and cost of fixing it.
However, in exchange for these perks, tenants are usually required to pay a security deposit upon moving in. The deposit can be kept by the landlord or returned to the tenant at the end of a lease. A security deposit can be a substantial amount of money, so people are typically eager to get as much of it back as possible. Below are some easy ways to protect your deposit and make more likely that you will get it back.
- Make sure you read your lease carefully before signing it. Your lease should specify how much the deposit will be and the terms of returning it. Reviewing this document with an attorney will help you spot any potential issues or concerning terms.
- Take photos upon move-in and move-out. Oftentimes, deposits are retained to cover repairs. If something was broken, missing or in poor condition when you moved in, you will want to document that so you are not held accountable.
- Take note of any cleaning standards your landlord has. While deposits are typically not used to cover standard cleaning or wear and tear, your landlord may have specific cleaning requests that must be met. If you do not meet these, you could lose part or all of your deposit, so make sure you know what your landlords expectations are.
- Stay current with bills and rent. If you fall behind on bills or stop paying rent, your landlord can deduct that money from your deposit. If you have questions about purposefully withholding rent, it would be wise to consult an attorney before you stop making payments.
These are all ways you can protect yourself and your deposit. But even if you don’t do these things, or in the event that issues still arise that compromise the return of your deposit, you still have legal options. Consulting an attorney who is familiar with security deposit disputes can be a good way to examine your rights and take steps to resolve the matter and collect your deposit.