Tips for Security Deposit Return
Many people believe that once they pay the landlord the security deposit, that money is gone, and there is no way of getting it back. However, contrary to popular belief, landlords usually want to give the money back to their renters. It is any day better for them to return the money rather than make lists of money deductions, get repairs done, hire services for deep cleaning the house, etc. But as a tenant, you must leave the house in good condition and live according to the agreement. Even though putting down a deposit is a necessary evil, there are ways to get the money back. Follow these steps to ensure the deposit return:
There are two times during your whole period of staying as a tenant when you should read the lease thoroughly – once when you move in and once when you move out. While moving in, make sure that you go through the agreement, even if it is too long. You need to know all the rules you should follow while living at the place and the things you will be held responsible for, to have good terms with your landlord. While moving out, you should take care of some obvious things such as the repairs, move out cleaning, fixing/paying for the damages, leaving the house as you got it, etc. However, rereading the lease gives you an idea of the specific things your landlord requires you to do, and the notice period you need to provide. Reading the lease is the first and essential step of getting your security deposit back.
Whenever you move out, make sure to send a letter to your landlord stating the date you will be moving out. You do not need to explain or justify the reason for moving out unless there was a problem with the apartment, such as bugs, termite infestation, unattended repairs, electricity issues, etc. While sending the letter, mention your new address along with your name and signature so that your landlord can send you the security deposit conveniently. Make a copy of the letter you send to your landlord because there are times when the owner is not polite and lies about not receiving the message. They hope that you, as the tenant, would not have made a copy. Sending a letter through a certified mail might also help but always make a copy of whatever you send if you need to fight a lawsuit for the deposit money. When you send the notice, confirm that the landlord receives the letter 30 days before leaving; otherwise, your lease might get renewed automatically.Pay your last month’s rent before leaving; otherwise, your lawyer might keep the security deposit for damages caused or hiring maid services. They can also sue you for unpaid rent, which can get you in unnecessary trouble. Therefore, focus on the higher amount of the deposit and pay your dues.
Getting small repairs done is a nice gesture that helps you save money and seems like a balancing act. There are chances that your landlord may overcharge you for repairs that would’ve cost way lesser if you got them done by yourself. However, please do not overdo it. Only get those repairs that are cheap and small. Don’t try to improve the house owner’s property by investing your money or fixing something that came broken. Small Repairs such as:
- Fixing and filling the holes made by hanging pictures, showpieces, etc.
- If you repainted a room, get it painted back to the color it was originally.
- Check the smoke detector’s batteries and fix/replace the bulbs and lights.
- Replace the plates below the burner if you damaged them instead of cleaning them. It’s cheap. Always get a thorough oven cleaning done before leaving.
- Clean bathroom stains or marks in the sink, shower, or commode.
If you unintentionally do significant damages to the house that are not cheap to fix, take pictures of them, and determine the real cost of getting the repairs done. The chances are that if you have a friendly owner, they won’t charge you extra, but in case they do, you have proof.
No amount is clean is ever clean enough. You can always clean more. According to the law, you should leave your rental apartment ‘broom clean.’ However, this term is very subjective. It is recommended to clean your place as clean as you got it or even more. If possible, come back to clean the house after you move out because then you will have access to every nook and corner without any furniture blocking your way. Leave your apartment looking brand new and unlived in to get the full deposit back and to thank your landlord for their services. While cleaning, do not miss out on the kitchen and bathroom. These are the places where most of the cleaning is needed. Scrub the bathroom floor and clean all the stains on the kitchen counter or sink. Ensure that you do the fridge cleaning correctly and get rid of all the smell that is there. Dust all the ceiling fans and curtains, mop the floor, vacuum the blinds, and clean all the surfaces with a disinfectant. If you have pets, sprinkle baking powder on all surfaces and floor and leave it for an hour. This will help absorb all the odors, and the landlord might not notice it while checking the apartment.
Talk to your landlord
Talk to your landlord about getting the deposit back because some landlords get away with the security deposit money if you do not ask them for it. In case you receive no reply, contact them with a follow-up letter and keep a copy with you. Do not get embarrassed while asking for your money. If they do not send you the deposit money within 30 days or according to your country’s laws, contact the court and follow the procedure. Have all the documents and proof ready. Ensure that you return the house keys to the landlord; otherwise, you might get charged for a replacement key. Getting the deposit is not as hard as they say. Get a proper house cleaning done, damages fixed, follow the lease, and be a good tenant. Your generosity and obedience will compel the landlord to give you your deposit back, and if they still don’t, you can always contact the court.