Remember that chunk of change you gave your landlord before you moved into your rented property? That little thing called a security deposit? If you’ve lived in more than one place you’ve probably had a couple of different experiences with that security deposit. You’ve probably ended up losing it completely at some point too.
The idea behind a security deposit is to help protect the landlord from damage that a tenant can cause. But it can also seem like it’s just some extra money their trying to shake out of you.
While we can’t guarantee you’ll see it all again, there are some things you can do to help mitigate any loss of the deposit when you finally move out.
Take a Complete Walkthrough with the Landlord
Before you sign the paperwork make sure to take a walkthrough of the rental property with your landlord and take notes on everything, everything that is wrong with the apartment or home. Do any of the faucets stick? Is there staining around the floor of the toilet or water heater? Is any of the linoleum tiling in the floor warped? Are there tiny little holes in the wall where somebody hung up a calendar?
No detail is too small and nothing should be overlooked. Your landlord isn’t likely to ignore these details when they attempt to settle the charges against the security deposit.
You can have your own record of this but make sure to get it signed by your landlord and have copies made of your own and their report.
Keep Your Landlord Busy
Many renters agreements between the tenant and the landlord will state what is the landlord’s responsibility for maintenance. Don’t expect them to change light bulbs for you but they should be responsible for things like a faucet breaking or replacing the sealant on a window. If there are things that they can fix, have them fix them. While you’re renting and their responsible for it the burden is theirs to repair any problems. Once you move out, the burden becomes yours for fixing them.
If they can’t fix it, then make sure to get a maintenance memo stating that you mentioned it as a problem during your time as a tenant.
Take the Final Walkthrough
Just as important as the first walkthrough is the final walkthrough. Have your documentation of everything that was noted as a problem on your initial walkthrough before you moved in. Make sure to point out problems that existed when you moved in (you are not responsible for these). Having the recorded documentation will prove your case.
Keep records and keep them safe. You’ll find that when you can prove what is and isn’t your fault you’ll get a better result when you finally try to get that security deposit back.
Remember that you have responsibilities to yourself as a tenant. You can’t expect your landlord to look out for you so you will have to take the time to look out for yourself.
Walter Cooper is a freelance writer and finance specialist with Get Approved. He offers his home and auto property advice to people to help make tough financial times easier.