Guest post by Maggie Larche at Free Market Mommy
Renting can be a cost-effective option for housing, but too many people leave money on the table when leaving an apartment or rental house by forfeiting part of their security deposit. Follow these steps to ensure that you will get back as much of your security deposit as possible.
1. Take care of your rental dwelling while you live there.
Waiting until you move to undertake a huge cleaning effort is a recipe for stress, headaches, and missed details. Instead, keep on top of the cleaning while you are renting (this gives you the added bonus of having a clean home!). Spot-clean your carpet as you spill things, dust all the woodwork every few months, clean out your storage closet every season, and so on.
2. Make friends with your leasing manager.
Frequently, your housing manager will be happy to warn you if there are any areas that commonly trip people up in the security deposit. For instance, one apartment we lived in charged $20 per carpet stain, no matter how small the stain. We never would have known this–and have been able to prepare–without a friendly leasing manager willing to dish.
3. Follow the move-out checklist exactly.
When you move out, most landlords will give you a checkout list outlining everything you need to do before leaving the rental dwelling. Follow this list exactly. If it says only 60-watt light bulbs are allowed, don’t leave a 75-watt in the back hall closet. If it requests you sweep the parking space you never used, do it anyway.
4. Invest a little money now to avoid a big charge later.
Little things can cost big money from your security deposit. If there’s a cheap way to fix a problem yourself, go ahead and do it. For example, I once accidentally broke one of the glass globes in our dining room chandelier. Rather than waiting for them to charge us to replace the entire light fixture, I did a quick internet search and found a replacement globe for just $5.
5. Ask for an itemized expense sheet.
If even after all your precautions, they do take some money out of your deposit, ask for an itemized list of charges. Then, don’t be afraid to call and argue against any charges that seem unfair. Most leasing offices will be reasonable if you clearly made a good effort to clean the dwelling and followed the checkout list to the letter.
Maggie Larche is the lucky new mom of a beautiful eight-month-old baby boy. She blogs about education issues, personal finance, and entrepreneurship for women at Free Market Mommy.
as a landlord with a few properties the points in the article are great! Take care of the property – clean it, mow the lawn (if applicable), don’t make holes in the walls and stains all over the carpet and ruin the blinds. Let your landlord know right away after you move in if you see an issue and document it. We’ve had some great tenants who take care of things and clean up after themselves and others who try to leave things dirty and broken. If you take good care of things you’ll get your deposit back, trash the place and you won’t.
Katy Feldman says
Have you seen this? http://securitydepositrefund.org ? My son recently went off to college and had a problem getting a refund of his deposit for breaking his lease. This organization forced the landlord to pay him back.
I have had good and bad experiences while renting. I didn’t think I was going to get my deposit back but I did. My last complex didn’t give me any infotiom on move out procedures when I signed my lease or filled out the state regulated move out notice. Then they tried to charge me to clean the carpets. I fought it and won most likely because I didn’t have a deposit. In my current place k have has non stop issues with everything from the ac to plumbing to security devices on doors to mini blinds being to short so you can see inside the apartment.
As another property manager chiming in here: always ask the manager not only what TO DO, but also what you DON’T need to do. For example, at my property, cleaning your carpet before moving is often a silly unneccessary expense since we always do it anyway….and would only charge you for stains we can’t get out -which you wouldn’t be able to get out either.
Mitesh Puri says
Thanks Maggie. Last year, when I bought a home here in Mumbai, i was charged a hefty security deposit of Rs. 1 lac which was not at all reasonable. Your article will now help me to deal with it 🙂
Angela @ Joy in the Process says
Thank you for posting this! I am about to move and be a first time renter! This is very helpful!!
Sherri Powell says
Ok, since everyone is sharing stories….We moved out of the rental house in Florida in June. We moved back to Illinois. On the 30th day following moving out, I received a claim letter on our deposit. $150 for carpet cleaning (which I agree to and was in our original lease) and $1050 for sod! No explanation! I had some friends go by and take pics of the house. They had resodded the front yard and put the house up for sale. So basically they wanted us to pay for their curb appeal improvment. They didn’t do the back yard which still looks terrible according to pics I received from my friend. When we rented the house it had been a foreclosure and they had only had it about 2 weeks when we moved in. The yard was terrible then. I sent the realtor company a picture of the yard with date printed on it from before we moved in along with a dispute letter for them keeping my deposit. No response of course. I can sue them in small claims court but I’m going to spend more in traveling there to defend it than the $1050 I feel they still owe me. The funny thing was that on our original walk through at the beginning, the yard was the only thing left blank as either being ok or having a noted problem. I guess that was their loop hole. Any suggestions?
Check local codes for ‘usuable life’ or similar wording. In some locations, generally where rent control is in effect, there are time limits on various things. The last place we rented it was 5 years for paint and 7 years for carpet. This means that the landlord is expected to replace/repair these items at least this often if you request and if you live there long enough they can’t charge you for things like carpet stains because the carpet is expected to be replaced anyway.
When we moved, we had been there for 7+ years. The landlord wanted us to pay for new carpet (it was still in fair condition but did show some wear). We reminded her about the usuable life thing and reminded her that the carpet was not new when we moved in and we had ourselves stayed longer than 7 years. She eventually quit fussing over it.
sorry, that came out sounding kinda harsh. The LL had tried to put so many things on us over the years from a leaking roof to replacing the water heater (things that were in no way our fault or our responsibility), that the carpet thing was just too much. We performed many minor repairs ourselves such as dealing with leaky faucets, weather stripping the doors and upgrading several fixtures to fans and were happy to do that. We were not tempted to pay several thousand to replace carpet that was already a little worn when we moved in and despite our best efforts showed that it was 10 years old when we left.
I’m a property manager and have been for several years. The number one rule is KNOW THE LAW!
Every state has different laws, only a few are fairly widely used, such as a Security Deposit and/or Itemized Statement must be sent within 30 days of a residents move out. Just look up the laws for whatever state you live in, read your application, lease, and other paperwork thoroughly, get signed copies of everything (meaning your signature and the landlord/property managers signature) and be a good resident (eg. pay on time, report maintenance issues, keep the dwelling clean, etc.).
“Making Friends” with your landlord/property manager has nothing to do with it. I tend not to make friends with residents because I have seen ugly results from that, everything from accusations of theft to charges of rape. Its better not to mix business and pleasure. You can be friendly without being friends.
Yes, some landlords/property managers are corrupt, but there are always “bad apples” in every bunch. Also remember, private owners of say a house are not held to the same laws as property managers of apartment communities. Just be careful, CYA and do what you’re supposed to. If someone tries to rip you off and you have the paperwork, photos, etc to prove otherwise then take it to court.
We’re not all evil, but we do have a job to do. If you don’t know the expectations of your landlord/property manager, ASK!
Again, number one rule of all, KNOW THE LAW.
Fight the landlords on this. I am in Oregon and had he same situation, it was a headached, but what I did was send a certified letter to the owners stating exactly what had been cleaned and demanded to have an itemized list of exactly what wasn’t “clean enough”. Also, I had to tell them that things would be escalated to the BBB or small claims if it was not resolved. I am still certain that they just took off a generic amount earmarked as “cleaning”, when the place was spotless (yes, I found things I hadn’t owned behind the appliances!
I think we’ve got a good landlord this time around. When we moved in we were given a checklist to survey the condition of the apartment but also a list of items they are aware that need repairs and the dates of expected repair of those items. They met that deadline for all but one item and contacted me with a revised deadline on it. Every 6 months we get a new maintenance checklist to fill out so that their apartments remain in good condition and you can continue to report issues they may have missed or have developed that you haven’t reported.
They have a detailed cleaning list for move out and recommended cleaning companies that if you hire them and give the LL a receipt for services you won’t be charged cleaning fees. Just about everyone I know in the building says they will use a cleaner on the list so that they don’t have to worry about it not being clean enough.
Cheryl Barnett says
I agree with Heather @ Family Friendly Frugality also. Make sure to do a walk through before you enter the apartment. Have the landlord write down what is broken and get a signed copy of this list. It saves a lot of heartache and aggravation in the future.
My friend just moved out and our landlord wants to charge her $150 for a carpet usage fee! What the heck is that all about?
Now that’s a new one! SCAM.
I would suggest taking pictures or video of the clean apartment AFTER when you move out. That should protect you should a landlord claim you left the apartment dirty or damaged.
None of this works in Washington. They have charges for what they call the “move out clean”. Last time I moved, I hired a cleaning lady to make sure the apartment was clean and when I left it, it was as clean as when I moved in. The complex claimed it “wasn’t clean enough”, and charged me $110 for cleaning. Next time I won’t bother.
Austin Thomas says
This is also how it works in L.A., and Sacramento CA. In my experience, anyway.
As a landlord I will add that make sure you fill out the move in check list and sign it with the landlord present. We insist on this and have tenants later tell us that such and such was broken when they moved in. Well we learned early on that there is no way we are going to remember some small stain in the carpet or something like that and will inadvertently charge 2 tenants for it when they move out. We actually have 2 check lists that we fill out the pre move in for any holes in the walls etc. and then a second one 5 days later because after living there a few days you notice other little things. We still rarely give back a full deposit though since we give the tenants a check list of what to clean and rarely do they do it. Usually the fridge and stove are disgusting.
Thanks, Court… I like the 5-day later check point. Also, another good practice, from BOTH perspectives, is to ask for (if a tenant) or insist on (if a LL) that repair check walk-thrus take place semi-annually. This helps also at the end of the term(s) and lessens any surprises in conditions.
We own a house that we rent out and believe me, I’d much rather give a complete deposit back rather than having to hassle with getting things repaired and cleaned! I understand that not all people are like me, so always take pictures of things that are broken or dirty when you move in.
Many years ago, my husband and I rented from a dishonest landlord who blamed us for damage we did not cause and refused to return our security deposit.
Then, years later, WE were the landlords. We had renters who looked good on paper but ended up falling way behind in rent while completely trashing our property in the process.
These two experiences made us realize that we never wanted ANYTHING to do with rental property again, either as a renter or a landlord!
Completely agree with you! We had renters trash our house as well and I take it too personally! I can’t imagine why someone would completely trash someone else’s property especially when we had been so nice to them 🙁
I know. Happens all the time. The one thing you can’t screen for is nasty. SMH.
I know it sounds silly, but can you define what “trash the house” means? I ALWAYS worry that the landlord is going to stop by at any time and kick us out because of a messy house. My husband thinks I worry too much. When I say messy, I mean (at most) last nights dishes weren’t rinsed to be put in the dishwasher or there is a basket of clothes that need put away or I bought 5 Sunday newspapers for coupons and I left them neatly stacked in the living room to gather for trash day. I always worry that I have a trashy house but everyone says I always keep a tidy house, especially considering husband and I work full time and attend classes full time.
We helped friends clean out their “trashed” property. There was rotting food in the sink and on the counter. There was a line of holes in the wall in one bedroom- over 20 nail holes all about the same height. The towel bar and tp holder were barely attached, and there was a hole in the drywall that was “patched” with cardboard. No cleaning had been done at all. They didn’t return the key b/c they said they’d lost it months before, so all the locks had to be changed. The judge agreed that the house was “trashed” and ordered a couple thousand dollars in damages be paid. “Trashed” is way more than just “messy” though if you were to vacate a rental and leave it “messy” you’ll still lose your deposit.
The landlord of my very first apartment tried to charge me for a replacement sleeper sofa because one of the support boards in the frame was broken. I honestly don’t know if it was broken when I moved in or not, but he said the money was not refundable because the couch had to be replaced.
In talking to my ex-neighbor, she said the couch was never replaced and the apartment was never cleaned between me and the next tenant, except for what I did when I moved out and, uh, let’s just say that I’m not the neatest person in the world and the place had LONG green shag carpet (it was the 70ies, that’s explanation enough, right?) and the new tenant was already ticked off at the landlord. I filed in small claims court and there was an attorney there that night who knew about the landlord and that very few tenants every got their deposits back. The attorney went to the apartment and the new tenant let him in to take pictures of the not-replaced sofa for which my security deposit was supposedly being withheld. It took 2 court dates and 9 months but I eventually got my deposit back. The judge made the amount equal to my deposit plus $4 plus 1/3 of the total deposit since he apparently/obviously knew that was the attorney’s fee.
I’ve been very careful and documented everything ever since.
As far as carpet cleaning goes, if the carpet is in generally good shape, and you rent one of the commercial ones from the grocery store for $30-$50, you can usually provide this to the rental agent along with your other move out checklist requiring it to be ‘broom clean’ — they are usually pretty thankful and its a small price to pay if you are wanting a security deposit back in the $1000+ range.
Also, (my husband and I rent properties) and remember that your security deposit goes into a separate interest bearing account. You are also entitled to that interest. Its not very much, <$25 range, but still, by law landlords are supposed to give you that too, and very few do.
I never heard that before. That’s good to know!
Rights to interest vary from state to state. In PA, it’s only after being in same unit, under same lease agreement, for complete two years (so beginning of year 3) and LL is permitted to deduct administrative fees from the interest (such as monthly account fee charged by bank to maintain the account). Interest is to be given at end of each lease year starting at 3rd year. Other states may have different laws. Also, amount of interest may be stated in the lease.
Check first with the rental company; I rented one once but it didn’t “count” and then got charged for the cleaning.
My past landlords (an old couple with 4 units) never sent me a deposit back or an itemization stating why we aren’t getting money back. We live in WV. They asked us to leave a few weeks after a tree fell on our apartment and hit our window AC. A few weeks after the tree falling they realized the AC unit was leaking down the wall into the downstairs neighbor and they couldn’t fix it until we moved out (is what they told us). Do I have a case to go after them? Part of me says forget it due to the damage but the damage wasn’t our fauly and we never received itemization after we moved out. Also, are independent landlors held to the same rules as rental companies? Thanks for any advise.
We moved out 12 months ago this week and our security deposit was $450.
I would file in small claims court before you lose the right to. They asked you to move out, so you didn’t break the lease. The whole story sounds fishy to me – they couldn’t replace a window AC unit while someone was living there?
Like I said, the units were owned by a couple in their 70s. We lived there for two years with no problems, but it seemed like everything went sour within a month or so. We came back from vacation to find a bullet had gone through our living room window (we lived in a wonderful neighborhood filled with great neighbors and cute little rancher-style houses. the police wrote it off as a “fluke.”). It took them 2 months to fix that. Right after they fixed that, the tree fell on our portch and knocked the AC unit loose. They cut the tree the following day but they said there was nothing really wrong with the AC unit. We conintued to run it (It was August) and then, a few weeks later, we came home and the landlord stated that the downstairs neighbor complained that water was dripping into his apartment so they had to enter our apartment as an emergency (neither one of us were home). They found that the AC unit was leaking down the wall and to our downstairs neighbor. She stopped me in the parking lot and stated that we needed to find a new place to live because they “can’t fix it while you live there.” They gave us 45 days… we were gone 12 days after they asked us to leave.
It was the first apartment for my husband and me and we lived there for 2 years with no problems. We never asked them to fix anything other than the window after a bullet went through it.
When we left, the only damage that we left was a thread of carpet had got snagged on a desk when we were moving it out. I understand that we will need to replace that since it was our fault. There was also some damage to our portch after the tree fell, but I don’t believe we should have to pay for damage from a tree on their property. But I just don’t see how the leaking water was our fault and we never heard from them again, even though we did give them our new address.
There is a website called rentlaw that outlines rental law in different states. Here is the WV security deposit link:
It seems like, unless a deadline for return is stated in your lease, the landlords have a “reasonable time” to return it or explain why they haven’t. A year seems more than reasonable. They state what to do in order to get them to return it, and what to do if they won’t.
That’s the problem; we were never given a copy of our SIGNED lease. I have a copy of the lease but not the one we signed. I asked multiple times for them but they would always state that they would have to get their granddaughter to make a copy and they would get me one. They never did.
Like I said in another comment, it was our first rental and we didn’t really have anyone guiding us in what we should or shouldn’t have done.
It certainly wouldn’t hurt to ask for the deposit back and see what happens. Assuming these are good people who were perhaps forgetful, they should be willing to give most of it back, or at least an explanation of why they kept the deposit. Worst case scenario is that they refuse to return it, and you are no worse off than you are now. You probably won’t get far in court since you don’t have the signed lease agreement, but maybe it can be resolved before it gets that far. Good luck.
I agree with other posters about documenting & photographing any damage before you move in. Thankfully we have a great property manager & I haven’t had to use these before but felt confident knowing that I had them.
karen b says
WE ARE LANDLORDS!!!! Not all of us are bad people! We have had some pretty bad experiences w/ some of our renters & if others have had this I understand where they are coming from. A piece of advise if you can, rent from christians they will treat you better for the most part. We try to be really fair & if the place hasn’t been torn up (holes in wall & major stains on floors) & we have gotten every months rent we give full deposit back. We don’t mind cleaning because not everyone cleans the same & we want to know its clean when we move the next people in. Becoming friends w/ us helps us learn more about you also. We are still good friends w/ one of our past renters. Keeping copys & taking pictures are good things to do because you never know. Please don’t put us all in the same catorgory because we are all not the same. thank you
Being a Christian does not make someone a good landlord. Being a non-Christian does not make someone a bad landlord.
karen b says
I totally agree w/ you here. Just thought that could be helpful for people.
Thanks Karen. We are not all bad. There are bad apples in BOTH bunches. There is responsibility on both sides. I’ve had great tenants, who returned my property in the same great condition at the end that they got it at the beginning. They treated the place with respect throughout the term and there was nothing to deduct and I was HAPPY not to have to. The place was rent-ready the same day they moved out. Saved me a good month of downtown having to paint, clean, and replace missing or damages items.
I did not have a security deposit. We are charged 75 bucks for them clean when we move out. I may or may not get money back for my pet deposit. My landlords are shady.
Definitely know the laws in your state. In MA, for example, if a landlord does not provide you with the name, location, and account number of the bank where your deposit has been placed within 30 days of receipt, you are entitled to get your security deposit back immediately. The landlord also loses any right to sue you for damages to the apartment.
Also, don’t forget about interest! I’m getting nearly $300 back in interest alone after vacating a property I’ve been in for 7 years.
One apartment tried to charge us for a broken drawer in the fridge. Luckily, I had written down some damages that were existing and that was one of them. They wanted to charge me $100 for that! I was also lucky that they found the list with my lease because I had not made a copy for mymself. Could have been a big mistake. So keep copies, you might not be that lucky.
I agree with Shannon. TAKE PICS BEFORE/WHEN YOU MOVE IN. We failed to do this with an idependent landlord and he was dishonest about the state of the place when we moved out vs. when we moved in. We lost half our security deposit because we had no way to prove that things in the apartment were damaged BEFORE we moved in. Uggg! Still makes me boil up a little when I think about it because we left the apartment nicer than when we moved in and he still took advantage of us.
Sometimes, you can actually save money by skipping things on the check list as well.
We moved out of a rental a year ago that required the carpets to be professionally cleaned(with documentation/receipt to prove it) before we left. The fee range was $30-$50 if it hadn’t been completed, but the lowest quote we could find was $109, so we let them have the hassle and it saved us money in the end. Sometimes it’s worth looking at the fee list and weighing the cost of your time and $$ too.
Beth L. says
That is good advice. When we moved out of our apartment last year, it was in our lease that we were required to pay for carpet cleaning, but the complex takes care of scheduling the cleaning since they have an agreement worked out with a cleaning company. It was only about $30-50, like you said, and I doubt we could have found a company on our own that would have done it for that cheap. We just paid the complex and they took care of the rest.
It’s also a smart move to photograph or videotape your pre-move-in walkthrough, documenting any pre-existing conditions. I failed to do this and due to a dishonest landlord lost almost $900 because it was my word against theirs. Renters should always document the state of the unit prior to moving in just to protect themselves in a worst-case scenario. We all want to think it won’t happen to us, but sadly it happens all the time.
reputable landlords will insist on a thorough pre-move-in walk through documented list. We also provide a replacement/repair cost for each item, in addition to its condition at time of move-in, which the tenant and landlord each sign. This makes the move-out process easier especially when the amount is deducted from the security balance, so there’s no question as to where the amount came from.
If your landlord only repays you a portion of your deposit and you believe you are entitled to the full sum, DO NOT CASH THE PARTIAL PAYMENT. You could lose rights to the full amount by doing so.
My former landlord failed to send on the deposit within 30 days and when he finally did so, withheld a sum from it. I did not pester him for the deposit and waited out the 30 days because in Pennsylvania, if they fail to do send it within that time limit, the burden of proof for the damages shifts and the renter is entitled to double damages. I did not cash the check, pointed out the law to him and requested full deposit back, which I eventually received. (Although I pointed out that I was entitled to it, I did not demand double payment – I just wanted my money back.) Had I cashed the check, he could have argued I had accepted partial payment.
Actually, this is false. You can’t send a partial payment for a bill and once it is cashed claim that means the account is satisfied. The same goes for accepting a partial refund. You can safely cash the check while making the case that you are owed more.
Actually you may be able to send in partial payment, note it as payment in full, and once cashed it could be held to be valid. This is why many credit card account agreements have that hidden one-liner in the agreement that says if you do this it will not be valid. If they don’t disclaim it in the account agreement, a judge could rule in the cardholder’s favor otherwise. Same for sending a partial refund. An valid argument could be made and maybe won in court that negotiation of the check, especially if it accompanied a statement which said that this would be all, could be deemed acceptance. Better safe to not cash it and reply in writing that there is an issue with the amount. The law is too subjective and often it’s up to the judge to decide, and if you have not been a model tenant, it could be harder to prove your case in court to your favor.
Please be careful in advising people because your information is incorrect. I wrote “You could lose rights to the full amount by doing so.” I did not say “will.” If someone has written “payment in full” on it and you then cash it, courts have accepted that this is settlement in full. (Technically, of course you can “still make a case” it is simply weaker than if you hadn’t cashed it.) One method you can fight this is by writing “reservation of rights” on the check before cashing it. I did not explain this in full because it is better that folks are cautious and look up specific rules in their jurisdiction before cashing anything.
I would love to see case citations that support your statement. It has been many years since law school and I’m not a practicing attorney but this is different than I was taught in school.
Sarah, this is a situation of accord and satisfication, as covered by the UCC 3-311, reading in pertinent part, “the claim is discharged if the person against whom the claim is asserted proves that the instrument or an accompanying written communication contained a conspicuous statement to the effect that the instrument was tendered as full satisfaction of the claim.” There are two exceptions to this. The first is for organizations that deal with thousands of checks a day, likely unapplicable to the readers here. The second is if the sum is repaid within 90 days, meant to resolve situations like this where it might be an inadvertent cashing of the check, however, since that deadline can be missed, it’s much easier all around to avoid cashing that check in the first place.
In PA, Landlord has 30 days from acceptance of the property (which may or may not be the same day you moved out). And in PA you’re entitled to SUE FOR treble (not double) damages if the landlord fails to provide you with the balance of your security deposit along with the return details if less than full amount being returned within those 30 days. The judge would have to award it, you can’t just ask for it if you think you’re entitled to get that back. What most renters also forget to do in PA is provide a valid next address to where the check should be sent. The law does not require the landlord to send a check if no forwarding address has been provided prior to move out.
Yes, you are correct that I would have had to sue to get the extra damages. (That was one reason I opted to point the law out to the landlord, to negotiate settlement to just the full deposit. I was now living about 6 hours away and it would have been inconvenient to return for small claims court.) And yes, a forwarding address is required – and in my case, was given both prior to and immediately after surrending the apartment.
I’d advise anyone to look up their specific state requirements and seek assistance if they are confused. Pennsylvania is known as being more tenant friendly than other states.
Especially if you have kids or pets:
Make a Detailed move-in inspection form and take pictures with a date stamp digital camera before moving in any furniture or belongings. Print a copy of the inspection form and pictures on cd for both you and your landlord within 30 days of moving in.
They will try to nail you for everything even if it was there if you moved in. Don’t let them! 🙂
Amanda @ Newlywed Trek says
And don’t get a puppy. 🙂
My husband and I both would have gotten our deposits back from the apartments where we lived before we were married if the dog hadn’t chewed up carpet in his apartment and torn up mini blinds when she came to visit me. Following step #4 may have save me a few dollars, but the blinds were only $10 anyway.
The first place I moved out of told me I broke a light that was in perfectly good shape when I moved. I had no documentation either way and didn’t really know the office or maintenance people very well. After that I’ve kept very good track and made friends with the landlords/property manager and the maintenance crew. It makes a huge difference when you have that personal connection. We also clean it so you’d never thought anyone lived there. Ever since we’ve always gotten our full deposit back.
Also: If your move out checklist doesn’t require a final walk through, ask if you can have one! Ask your landlord or apartment manager to walk through with you before you turn in your keys and point out any last minute details you might be charged for, but could still fix/clean.
I did this with my former apartment manager last week, and during it she told me that she WANTS to give people their deposits back. She said so often, people won’t clean well assuming she will keep their money when in reality, she’d rather give the money back and be able to turn the apartment within a day. I had never thought of it that way and thought I’d pass it on. 🙂
Definitely take care of the rental property. It’s very important and is, to me, basic courtesy. It’s also important to befamiliar with landlord/tenant laws in your state.
In Iowa, when you vacate a rental, the landlord has 30 days to refund your deposit, or send an explanation as to why some or all won’t be refunded. If you haven’t received anything in those 30 days, the landlord forfeits all rights to withhold any amount of the deposit. I’ve received full deposits back twice by sending certified letters to landlords quoting this law.
My roommate and I did have to sue one time. A giant property management company. We moved out in October, in February they sent us a letter saying they were keeping all of our deposit because of damages. We had left that place cleaner than we found it. We sued them in small claims court and they sent us a check as soon as they were served.
Heather @ Family Friendly Frugality says
I also want to stress the importance of doing the move IN checklist thoroughly and taking pictures along the way. We had a landlord try and pin a crack in a wall on us a few years back, making it into a much bigger issue then it really was (they were trying to charge us to completely demo the entire wall and replace it!).
I had noted the crack on our move in checklist though and had pictures to prove it. Saved us a ton of money!