Move out of a rental, and you’re likely to have plans for the security deposit your landlord has been kindly holding for you. Make sure you get your hard-earned money returned when you vacate the premises by keeping the following five tips in mind.
Pre-qualify your potential landlord. Before agreeing to the rental, check out the individual or company renting the apartment. Look on the Better Business Bureau’s website for information and check online reviews.
Perform your own pre-move-in inspection. Inspect the apartment or house before you move in, noting any problem areas, such as discolorations on the walls and chipped tiles. Check for evidence of rodent or insect infestation. Take time-stamped photos during the inspection, so you have proof of the apartment’s condition before you move. Give a copy of the photos and your inspection report to the landlord.
Read your lease. Once you sign a lease, you’ve agreed to whatever it says, so it’s important to read it thoroughly. Check the fine print for cleaning fees to be taken from your deposit. If possible, renegotiate the lease to state that you will leave the premises spotless upon your departure and will therefore get the entire deposit returned.
Keep thorough records. While living in the rental, record all significant events that occur. For instance, if there is a leak under the kitchen sink that causes water damage, note this and how the issue was resolved. That way you won’t be charged for damages when you move out.
Maintain the property. Treat your rental as if it were your own. Keep it clean and neat, and notify your rental agency or super as soon as there is a problem. A small leak can be handled, but it is left un-repaired it can become a huge problem. Keep recrords of any problems, when it began and the date repairs were completed by the rental agency.
Give adequate notice. Check your contract regarding how much notice you are required to give before moving out. Vacating early can cause a forfeiture of part or all of your security deposit. Most landlords require a 30-day notice. Make the record official by sending the notice to your landlord by certified mail with return receipt requested. Doing this will provide proof that you sent your move-out notification in a timely manner.
Have any other effective tactics for getting a security deposit returned? Please share them in the comments.
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