If you rent an apartment or house, you're probably interested in ways to avoid losing your security deposit. The landlord will require a deposit before you move into the unit. This protects your landlord in the event that you trash the apartment or breach the contract. However, security deposits are costly, and although they're refundable, you can lose your deposit. Here are seven smart ways to avoid losing your security deposit.
1. Take Pictures
Before you sign the lease and move into your rental, walk through the unit with your landlord. Pinpoint any problems with the apartment or house. Take pictures for your records. This way, your landlord won’t stick you with costly repairs once your lease ends or keep a portion of your deposit. This is one of the most effective ways to avoid losing your security deposit.
2. Ask before Making Changes to Your Rental
Some landlords are okay with minor changes and they allow tenants to paint walls, swap out light fixtures and hang pictures. Other landlords aren’t as cool with changes. If you make unauthorized changes to a rental, there's a chance that your landlord will keep your security deposit. In his mind, he needs the money to undo the changes you've made.
3. Know What You're Responsible for
Before signing your name to a lease, make sure you read the terms and fully understand what you're responsible for. For example, the landlord may state that you are responsible for maintenance and minor repairs that pop up while you’re occupying the unit. If you fail to keep a proper maintenance schedule, you could lose your security deposit.
4. Watch Your Pets
If your landlord allows pets, keep a close eye on them. If your pet soils the carpet, scratches the floor or damages the unit in any other way, your landlord can legally keep your security deposit, or reduce how much he refunds.
5. Fix Any Damages Yourself
If you damage the rental, your landlord will deduct repair costs from your security deposit. To avoid losing your security deposit, make sure the place is in good shape. If your child accidentally kicks a hole in the wall, go to the hardware store and buy supplies to repair the wall. Likewise, if there's a huge stain on your landlord's carpet, hire carpet cleaners to remove the stain.
6. Clean the Apartment
Your landlord may also deduct money to have the apartment or home thoroughly cleaned, but it’s much cheaper to clean the apartment yourself. Move out your furniture, and then give the home a detailed cleaning from top to bottom. This includes mini-blinds, window sills, baseboards, the inside of appliances, the bathrooms, etc.
7. Don’t Break the Lease
A surefire way to get back your security deposit – don't break the lease. Whether you sign a one-year or a two-year lease, do not move out until the end of the agreement. Leaving early is considered breach of contract, and legally the landlord doesn't have to refund your security deposit.
Security deposits can run hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars. Your refund can go toward the deposit on your next apartment or maybe a down payment on a house. For this matter, it's important that you do everything possible to be a responsible tenant. What steps can you offer to ensure the return of a security deposit?