Most landlords require tenants to pay a rental security deposit before moving into a rental unit. A deposit is one way the landlord protects him or herself against potential damages to the unit or lack of payment. Your security deposit acts as an incentive for you to keep your unit clean and damage-free. When your lease is up, your landlord will typically inspect the residence and determine if you have earned the right to receive your deposit back.
Getting your rental security deposit back is crucial, especially if you plan to move to another unit. It’s often 2 to 3 times the amount of the rent! Continue reading to learn how you can get your entire deposit back at the end of your lease.
Paying a rental security deposit before moving into an apartment is very common. Landlords need a way to safeguard the property against damages as well as protect themselves from financial loss.
Landlords have the right to keep the security deposit under certain conditions. Generally, the rental agreement contains these conditions and is signed by both the landlord and the tenant(s) to ensure both parties understand.
Every lease agreement should clearly state the terms of the deposit. In most cases, the agreement will define certain situations in which the landlord can keep the deposit.
Your landlord may withhold your security deposit for any or all of the following reasons:
- You do not pay your rent. If you owe money to your landlord at the end of your lease term, he or she has the right to deduct it from your deposit.
- There are significant damages. Normal wear and tear is expected. Things like scuff marks on the walls or broken door handles can usually be fixed with minimal costs. However, if your unit has significant damages, the landlord may deduct the cost of repairs from the deposit. If the cost of repairs is more than the deposit, the landlord may keep it all. Extreme damages include broken appliances, light fixtures, doors, windows or other features integral to the structure of the unit.
- The unit is dirty. To get your rental security deposit back, it’s important to keep the unit as clean as possible. Most landlords require tenants to do a deep clean before moving out. The landlord can withhold the deposit for things like carpet stains, dirty ovens, burn holes and cigarette smoke.
- You do not clear out the unit at lease end. Leaving personal belongings in the unit or on the property is cause for the landlord to keep some or all of your deposit. It costs money to dispose of personal items, especially things like furniture or appliances. To get your security deposit back, it’s important to leave the unit as empty as it was when you moved in.
In most states, landlords who keep the security deposit are required to provide a letter that contains an explanation. The letter may also include a list or invoice of expenses that the landlord paid in order to recoup the unit.