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Security deposits: Everything you need to know.

When moving into a new apartment, one of the requirements is a security deposit. This is a one time payment made to the landlord at the beginning of the lease that is held and used to cover any damages left by the tenant during the duration of their lease. The most frequent question we get is “How do we get our security deposit back”, which is understandable, that is your money after all. In the rental field, wear and tear is considered to be reasonable damages that result from wear and aging of an apartment. An example of reasonable damage would be worn carpet due to extensive use or the yellowing of walls from the sun. Unreasonable damages could include large spills on carpeting or nail holes in walls. A landlord may charge all or a portion of your security deposit to repair any unreasonable damage at the time of move out. At the end of the day, YOU are responsible for any damages that you have caused to the apartment, and failing to fix them will only cost YOU money. 

Before moving out, make sure to follow the correct procedure:

  • Give proper notice! When moving out of an apartment, contact your landlord in writing to inform them of your intended move out date at least 30 days in advance.

  • Schedule a walkthrough! Scheduling a walkthrough with your landlord to inspect the condition of your unit gives you an opportunity to ask about any necessary repairs. After noting these repairs, you can decide whether to fix them yourself or be charged for not completing them. 

  • Provide a forwarding address! Your landlord needs somewhere to send your deposit back to you along with a detailed list of what was deducted from your deposit if applicable.

Some important things to consider when moving out are:

  • Clean the apartment! Cleaning an apartment and restoring it to the state you moved into can help to avoid any fees related to cleanliness 

  • Remove all furniture and belongings! Left behind furniture and belongings need to be disposed of, which costs a landlord (and consequently you) money.

  • Fill in nail holes! If you hang things throughout your apartment and leave extensive holes, fill these in and paint them to avoid extra damage to the walls.

  • Repaint! If you painted your walls a new color or caused significant paint damage, take the time to repaint walls to lessen the chance your landlord deducts for paint.

  • Pay your last month of rent! If your rent balance is not at zero at your time of move out, your security deposit can be used towards this balance. 

The best way to ensure that your unit stays in good condition is to take care of damage as it occurs. Don’t wait until the month of your move out to take care of damage in the unit. Keep in touch with the maintenance staff for your unit to take care of repairs and keep things clean as you go! Remember, it’s your money, we’re just holding it.


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