For many renters the subject of the security deposit is somewhat of a touchy subject. Most renters assume they should receive their security deposit back in its entirety. That is as long as there is no significant damage done to the apartment. However, this is rarely true as there are number of factors which contribute to whether or not the security deposit (or even a portion of the deposit) will be returned to the renter when they vacate the premises.
Did You Do Any Major Damage?
Certainly doing major damage to the apartment, such as putting holes in the walls, breaking appliances or tearing up the flooring may warrant the security deposit being kept. Even in these cases, the leasing agent must justify these costs. In other words, the leasing agent cannot use one damaged item to justify keeping the whole security deposit. Rather the leasing agent is obliged to determine a cost to repair the item. If this estimate is large enough to justify not returning the security deposit, the renter should be informed of the estimated cost of repairing the apartment.
Is Your Apartment Clean Enough?
All apartments should be cleaned thoroughly before the tenant vacates the property. This should include the bedrooms, bathrooms and any common areas. A cleaning should also include cleaning of all of the blinds in the apartment. Blinds can be rather difficult to clean and many leasing agents charge approximately $10 per blind if they deem there is a need to clean these items. This can add up rather quickly if there are a number of windows in the apartment.
Many leasing agents also perform a number of standard cleaning functions when any resident vacates the property. This may include items such as cleaning out the refrigerator, shampooing the carpet, or repainting the walls. When these items are required, there is typically a fee associated with each item. Additionally, leasing agents often only allow for one hour of cleaning services to prepare an apartment for the next residents. This is rarely enough time to complete the work and therefore renters wind up being charged an additional fee at an hourly rate.
Have You Read Your Contract Documents?
How can renters ensure the greatest chance of having their security deposit refunded to them? They should be very familiar with their contract documents. This is important while living in the apartment, as well as while getting ready to vacate the apartment. Being familiar with those terms can prevent the renter from making decorating choices which are explicitly prohibited by the rental agreement. These types of decisions can be costly in the long run. They may result in the renter being assessed for perceived damages by the leasing agent.
Renters should also carefully review the contract documents as they are preparing to vacate the property. This is important because it may help the renter to clean and make repairs to the apartment in accordance to guidelines set forth by the leasing agent. Doing this will make it much more likely the renter will not be assessed exorbitant fees.