5 Tips to Protect Your Apartment Security Deposit
To ensure that your apartment security deposit is returned in full after the end of your lease period, follow these tips below.
1. The Walk-through
Begin ensuring the safety of your apartment security deposit with a walk-through with your landlord. Note any existing cosmetic damages to the apartment including small holes in the walls, dings on doors, stains or tears on the floor and marks on the doors and walls. Write down all damages on the lease and ask the landlord to initial the notations which state the damages were present before you moved in.
2. Document and Photograph
Take plenty of pictures (or a recording) of the apartment before you move your things in – including pictures of the appliances. If you notice any areas of the apartment which are in less than stellar condition – like the windows, window frames or door frames – be sure to photograph those areas as well. Use a digital or recording camera with the date noted on the recording or photos – or save your receipt if you develop the photos.
3. Follow the Terms of Your Lease
Your entire security deposit may be forfeit if you violate the terms of your lease. Instances which could terminate your security deposit return may include: breaking the lease early, failure to notify the landlord when you are moving out at the end of the lease agreement, acquiring pets without the landlord’s permission and moving other persons into the apartment without your landlord’s permission.
4. Report Any Damages Immediately
Any damages to the apartment should be reported immediately so the landlord will be able to repair the damage quickly to prevent further harm from occurring to the apartment. If additional damage occurs to the apartment because you failed to notify the landlord of the initial damage in a timely manner you could be held financially responsible for part of the repairs.
For example, if a hail storm breaks a window in the apartment and you fail to notify your landlord right away you could be held financially responsible if additional damage occurs to the inside of the apartment due to the broken window.
5. Know Your Rights
Know your rights regarding your apartment security deposit. The landlord cannot use the deposit to repair normal wear and tear on the apartment, and the landlord must return a deposit within a specific period of time (usually 30 days in most states) after you move out. If you feel that your landlord has unjustly kept all or a portion of your rent, try to talk with your landlord first – if that fails you can sue your landlord in small claims court for the return of your deposit.