The Ins and Outs of Security Deposits

As a renter, paying a security deposit prior to move in is required for most properties. Though security deposit amounts may vary, depending on the price of rent, how good your credit is, or how much income you make, you can anticipate your new landlord to require a security deposit in addition to the 1st month’s rent. In this blog post, we are going to touch base on exactly what a security deposit is, and what it’s used for, as well as go over the steps you can take, to ensure you receive all, or at least most of your deposit back at move out.

What is a Security Deposit?

A security deposit is an amount of money that a tenant pays to their landlord prior to their move-in date. A security deposit can be used for one of two things; financial protection as well as property protection. If you vacate the property before the end of your lease and owe money for rent and/or utilities, your security deposit will count towards any balance owed. If there are physical damages to the property at move out, your security deposit will be applied to the costs of those repairs.

Once your lease has concluded and you have decided not to renew your lease, you’re going to want your security deposit to be returned to you in full. In order for that to happen, there are certain steps you will want to take to guarantee that you receive your full deposit. Some of these steps should be taken prior to move in, while others will take place during your tenancy, and leading up to your vacate date.

Carefully Read the Lease Agreement

While this may sound like an obvious step to take, sometimes we’re all guilty of not reading long, important documents in detail. We skim through the pages, and only focus on the sections that asks for our initial or signature. However, by skimming you are missing a lot of important information in that lease agreement, and for your sake you’ll want to be aware of all the information inside of it. 

Your rental lease agreement is where you will find information pertaining to what changes can be made at the property; such as painting or hanging items on the walls. Knowing what changes you are allowed to make in your rental property will help to ensure you’re not doing anything that would result in an additional charge at move out.

Always Ask Questions

When reading your rental lease agreement, do not be afraid to ask questions if certain sections of the document leave you confused or unsure. It is vital to make sure you fully understand the terms of your rental lease agreement. For example, ask what charges can be deducted from your deposit at the conclusion of your occupancy. Having a clear understanding of what items can result in a deduction of your deposit will allow you to live accordingly and avoid any potential damages during your tenancy.

Attend Move Out Inspection

Property managers are required to notify tenants the date and time a move out inspection is scheduled to take place. As a rental tenant, you have the right to be present during the inspection, and while it’s not required that you show up it is highly recommended. While most inspections are completed by maintenance personnel,  being present allows you the opportunity to see exactly what is being documented.

While sometimes damages to a property are unavoidable, abiding by some of the tips above will show your property manager that you are a rental tenant who cares about their property. Assuredly, if you follow the guidelines laid out above, you should be getting the maximum deposit refund at move out. Don’t throw your money away to avoidable charges! Instead, gather information, ask questions, and prepare accordingly.