How to protect your security deposit at move-out
Spare yourself the shock of hearing that you’re not getting back your security deposit, or that you only get it partially, at your move out. Landlords will have their interests first so even a few scratches on the floor or finger-smudged walls can make big holes in your pockets. Follow a few clear steps in ensuring your deposit.
- Read carefully the lease before you sign it – although it’s commonsensical, avoid quickly going over the contract when signing; take your time with the fine prints. At least make time for the paragraphs pertaining to deposits, term agreements and rental increases.
- Add to your lease a list of damages due to everyday use – worn carpet, smudged walls, worn steps, broken pipes and appliances, etc. – these all should go in this list, with a clear explanation that the tenant is not responsible for them.
- Pre-move-in inspection with your landlord – don’t read it as mistrust, but as by-the-book rental process. Take copious notes and ask if you can take pictures, even though they might feel offended, your interest should come first for you. This is a good way to identify problems that need fixing before you move in; discover where the carpets are worn and the walls scuffed so you’re not held responsible when you move out.
- Call in every broken thing – regardless of the gravity, be it a broken step or a pipe, call your landlord as soon as possible. Otherwise you risk paying for them yourself. On this note, keep a record of all things that broke down together with the date when you reported the problem and the date when it has been fixed. There will be things you’ll take care of faster than your landlord can intervene, keep a record as well because it will add to your argument should you have a dispute at move out.
- Have everything in writing – any addendum to the lease agreement that you make with your landlord should be covered by a printed and signed copy for each of you. Be it small maintenance works or re-painting the house, you should have it in writing that in exchange some portion of the rent is subsidized or that you’re guaranteed getting back your deposit.
- Clean responsibly – just that.