Protecting Your Rental Security Deposit

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Protecting Your Rental Security Deposit

Staff Writer · Dec 10, 2009

A rental security deposit is money given by a tenant to the landlord which acts as insurance should any form of damage occur during the tenant’s occupancy. The rate of a rental security deposit varies but in most cases it is around one month’s rent. Typically a rental security deposit is returned in (or close to) full at the completion of the lease, but if any damages occur the landlord can keep the amount necessary to perform the repairs.

Protect Your Security Deposit When Moving in

Check the apartment for any type of pre-existing damage. Be extremely thorough in this inspection. Look for any major damage and also minor damage such as chips in the paint. If you see any existing damage, use a camera and take photographs. Many landlords also provide a document which you can list any damage on. If the landlord does not provide one then make your own. Once you have filled out the form listing damages present it to your landlord along with pictures. If possible have a notary available when you present the document so the landlord cannot claim they did not receive this document.

Never pay your rental security deposit using cash and keep the voided check when the bank returns it. This will provide you two pieces of proof, both the voided check and the bank records, that you made a security deposit.

Protect Your Security Deposit While Renting

Keep your apartment clean and well organized. If a spill occurs or water ends up on the floor clean it up quickly. This will help to prevent what could lead to expensive repairs.

If you do cause minor damage then repair the damage yourself. Landlords nearly always utilize outside companies to perform repairs. Even if they perform the repair themselves they will usually charge an average labor rate for the work performed. By performing the repair yourself you can have the repair done at a considerably lower price than if the landlord performs the repair.

Keep up to date on your rent payments. It is legal in many states for a landlord to deduct rent and late fees from your security deposit.

Tips When Moving Out

Clean the apartment extremely thoroughly. The main goal should be to leave the apartment looking brand new.

Look around for any marks or other forms of damage which may exist in the apartment. If you find any problems which did not exist at the time you moved into the apartment repair them yourself if possible. If you cannot repair them yourself then consider hiring a handyman or contractor to perform the repair for you. This will still usually lead to a lower expense than the landlord will charge you.

If the apartment has carpeting then hire a carpet cleaning business and have the carpets cleaned. Most landlords require this upon move out and if it is not done they will charge between 3 and 5 times the standard expense for having the carpets cleaned.

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