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See what your landlord is allowed to do with your security deposit upon your move out.
What you can do when you move in to maximize your security deposit return when you move out.
What you can do when moving out to maximize your security deposit return.
Click here to see where your state's law on security deposits is codified. Every state's law differs from one another in how much your Landlord may charge, how long your Landlord has to return your deposit, and what deductions your Landlord is permitted to take.
How long a Landlord can hold on to your security deposit after you vacate the premises depends on your state's laws. Click here to determine whether your Landlord failed to return your security deposit in violation of your state's law.
How much a Landlord can charge you for a security deposit is often determined by state law. Click here to determine whether you've been overcharged in violation of your state's law.
Each state has its own laws on how a landlord may use your security deposit, and what a landlord may deduct from your deposit.
Most states allow a landlord to use your security deposit to cover damage to the unit that occurred during your tenancy or to put toward unpaid rents or utilities. Damages are items that rise above normal wear and tear during your tenancy. Ordinary wear and tear can be understood as follows:
Ordinary Wear and Tear; Landlord's Responsibility v. Damage or Filth: Tenant's Responsibility:
1. Curtains faded by the sun v. Cigarette burns in curtains
2. Minor marks on or nicks in the wall v. Large marks on or holes in the wall
3. Door hinges showing rust spots v. Door off its hinges
4. Moderate dirt or spotting on carpet v. Rips in carpet or urine stains from pets
5. A few small nail holes in wall v. Lots of picture holes or gouges in walls
6. Faded bedroom wall paint v. Wall water damage from hanging plants.
7. Dark patches of ingrained soil on hardwood floors that have lost their finish and have been worn down to bare wood v. Water stains on wood floors and windowsills caused by windows left open during rainstorms
8. Stains on old porcelain fixtures that have lost their protective coating v. Grime-coated bathtub and toilet
9. Moderately dirty mini-blinds v. Missing mini-blinds
10. Bathroom mirror beginning to "de-silver" (black spots) v. Mirrors caked with hairspray
11. A clothes dryer that delivers cold air because the thermostat has given out v. Dryer that won't turn at all because it's been misused
12. A toilet flushes inadequately because mineral deposits have clogged the jets v. Toilet won't flush properly because it's stopped up with a diaper
Move-in day is a busy time and in addition to planning your apartment's layout, you should also be planning on how to maximize the return on your security deposit. It may not be what you think about right off the bat when you are starting your tenancy, but it should be.
You should do several things to avoid disputes over the security deposit later on:
1. Before you move in, request an inspection of the premises.
2. Identify all damage spots, including dirt, mildew, wear and tear with a written checklist.
3. You and your Landlord should fill out the list together, but if s/he cannot be there, bring someone as a witness.
4. Be specific! If there is mildew on the kitchen wall behind the sink, write that, rather than saying there is mildew in the kitchen.
5. Both your signature and your Landlord's should appear on the document and request copies to save to your computer.
6. Take pictures and videos. Save and send the Landlord copies of both.
The more detailed you are with the above items, the less chance that you will be held responsible for these items when you end your tenancy. Use this opportunity to acquaint yourself with the space and your future landlord.
When you are ready to terminate your tenancy, you will want your security deposit back as soon as possible. Your landlord has an obligation to comply with the laws of the state you rent in, but MOST LANDLORDS DO NOT KNOW THE LAW FOR RETURNING SECURITY DEPOSITS. I am going to repeat this because it is to your advantage...MOST LANDLORDS DO NOT KNOW THE LAW FOR RETURNING SECURITY DEPOSITS.
The best methods to get your security deposit money back after your tenancy include: 1. Follow the terms of your Lease.
a. If you have a 60-day notice provision prior to termination, then notify the landlord of your intent to terminate the lease before the 60 day period.
b. If you have a month-to-month tenancy, give your landlord 30 days' advance notice of your termination.
c. Any termination should be in writing, either via email or certification of mailing.d. If you need to terminate before the end of the lease term, see if your lease allows assignment or subletting and get permission from your landlord in writing.
2. Schedule a final walk-through with the Landlord and bring your move-in checklist, pictures, and videos.
3. Look at what the lease requires in terms of cleanliness upon move-out. Most leases require "broom swept clean" - meaning clean but not spotless.
4. Fix obvious damage - remove garbage, food, repair holes in drywall, etc.
5. Give the landlord your forwarding address.
The timeline for the return of your security deposit varies from state to state, click here to find the legal timeline for the return of your security deposit for your state.