Landlords and the Dreaded Deposits

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Many renters have nightmares about getting their security deposit back. If you’ve heard stories about friends or family that did all they could and they still lost their deposit, it might make you wonder if your landlord is some sort of scam artist looking to suck your wallets dry. It’s an unpleasant thing to have to worry about… but thankfully, it usually couldn’t be further from the truth. If you take good care of the property, you will probably get your deposit back. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind.

How to get Your Rental Deposit Back

The process to getting your deposit doesn’t have to be a pain. Sure, there are strict terms bound behind your security deposit. It takes effort to make sure your apartment looks the same or better than when you bought it. And of course, there are some precautions you can take to insure yourself just in case.

Below I provide you with the things you need to know to get your money back. If you follow these steps, you’re almost certain to find yourself with a nice paycheck after your lease is up!

Read the Lease

This is a simple thing that tenants don’t take seriously enough. This helpful little document lays out everything you can and can’t do in the apartment—for example, rules regarding pets, smoking, parties, your responsibilities if anything gets damaged, and other things. It also lists the rules and terms for the security deposit.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A COPY OF THIS! It’s important to have a copy as documented evidence. That way, the terms you signed off on don’t change unexpectedly without your knowing.

Know the Law

The law sets standards for tenants and landlords in each state. If you are unsure of state laws regarding renting or security deposits, look it up online or contact the state government agency for housing and development.

For instance, you can find Florida’s state renters’ laws here. County and city statutes may add additional guidelines for renters and buyers as well.

Don’t Make Hasty Upgrades

You may want to paint the walls, mount a TV, or even hang some wall furnishings. DON’T! Well, at least, you should pause and consider it first. Check your lease or ask your landlord before you make any upgrades like this to your apartment. It’s often better to be safe than sorry and just leave the apartment as is. Use a stand for your TV instead and command strips on your walls. Be creative!

Take Tons of Photos

This is your ultimate insurance policy. Take photos of your apartment before you move in and before you move out. This will make it difficult for the landlord to contest you on the state of the apartment.

And sometimes, photos are a great reminder for landlords that the apartment had certain problems before you moved in. Honest mistakes can sometimes happen—especially when they manage so many different properties at once.

Get a Professional Cleaner

And finally, hire a professional cleaner before you move out of your apartment. Who knows if your definition of clean is the same as the landlord’s? Some things, like carpet cleaning and appliances are better handled by the pros.

If you keep your rental property clean, take care of any damage that may have occurred, and stay committed to the steps above, it’ll be difficult for the landlord to keep your deposit from you.