Get Your Security Deposit Back: What Is Normal Wear and Tear?

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Get Your Security Deposit Back: What Is Normal Wear and Tear?

Staff Writer · Jan 13, 2010

One of the most important things to get back out of your apartment is your security deposit. Your security deposit can often become free money for your landlord if you are not diligent about getting it back. Likewise, because you could probably use that money for either the next apartment that you are renting or towards the purchase of a home, it is crucially important that you understand what is considered normal wear and tear.

What Your Landlord Expects

Your landlord will expect that you leave your apartment in almost the same type of condition in which you received it. Your landlord is in the business of renting apartments, so he will expect to be able to rent your apartment to another tenant upon your departure. In order for him to do that, he will expect that you leave your apartment in a habitable manner requiring only minimal maintenance.

However, your landlord does understand that you are going to be living in your apartment space for at least one year. That means that the carpet will get walked on, the walls will get touched and the appliances will get used. This means that your landlord certainly expects you to live and live comfortably in your environment; however, he does expect you to keep it clean and well maintained if you expect to get your security deposit back.

Normal Wear and Tear

Normal wear and tear can basically be defined as anything that occurs in the natural aspect of everyday living; in essence only causing the apartment to need minor cleaning or repair when your lease has expired.

Because you live in your apartment, there are bound to be times when you wear your shoes on the carpet and certain small amounts of dirt will be tracked in. This would be considered normal wear and tear because it is an act of every day living and does not constitute replacing the entire carpet.

If, on the other hand, you have a hole punched in your wall, a door ripped off of the hinges or appliances that have not been cleaned since you moved in, these are all grounds for your security deposit being used to make the repairs and clean what needs to be cleaned.

Anything that requires major repair or major cleaning due to your negligence is grounds for use of your security deposit. If you decide to paint your walls green, your landlord will expect that you either re-paint them back to white, or he will charge you to have someone else do it. This will come out of your security deposit because you actually altered the appearance of the apartment.

How You Can Get Your Security Deposit Back

If you want to make sure that your security deposit is returned to you, you will have to live by the rules of renting. Try to keep in mind that you do not own the space in which you live and your security deposit is leverage to making sure that you do.

In order to get your security deposit back, you can make sure that guests take their shoes off before entering your apartment. This will cut down on the amount of dirt that is brought in and reduce the likelihood that your landlord will want to charge you for shampooing the carpet.

Additionally, you can make sure that you clean your appliances weekly. Doing this can help to make sure that your landlord will not require a cleaning service to come in after you have left; thus will help the return of your security deposit.

The basics of getting your security deposit back can be broken down like this: treat your apartment like you would want someone to treat your home—because that is what your landlord will expect from you. If you can live by those rules, there should be no reason why you can’t get your security deposit back.

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