Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to Protect your Security Deposit

We all know that apartments want to make money off of you any way they can. Below are a few tips on how you can protect your deposit. 

Before you move in:
-Make a written list of any damage you see in the apartment.
-Take photographs.
-Outline the exact condition you find the apartment in down to the slightest detail including chips in the pain on a wall or carpet stains.
-Make a copy of your written record as well as the photographs, keep a copy for your records and give one copy to the landlord.
-Ask for a receipt for the deposit and keep a copy of your cancelled check. Don’t pay the security deposit in cash, you need a paper trail.

Living in the Apartment
-Take care of your apartment as if you owned it.
-Make repairs as needed instead of waiting until you move out.
-If a repair is large enough or significant enough to require professional work, speak to your landlord before you do anything. Depending on the type of repair required, it may be covered in your lease.
-Pay your rent in full and on time and keep a record of each payment. If your rent is late, your landlord may charge late fees that may be deducted from your security deposit. This should be detailed in your lease agreement.

Moving Out of the Apartment

Before you pack your stuff and hit the road, if you want to get your security deposit back, you’re going to need to do some work first. Follow these guidelines and you should get back most, if not all, of your security deposit.

In the Bathroom
-Scrub bathtub/shower.
-Scrub inside and outside of toilet 
-Dust and wash the medicine cabinet and mirror.
-Look for any signs of leaking water or mold growth
In the Kitchen
-Clean and wash out cabinets and drawers. If necessary, vacuum crumbs.
-Make sure that the hinges on all cabinets are working properly
-Scrub and use a cleaner with bleach on countertops, backsplash and sinks.
-Clean stove, oven, microwave and broiler.
-Make sure all appliances are working properly.
In the Bedroom and Living Areas
-Thoroughly vacuum. Look for burns or for deep stains in the carpet.
-Check the condition of closet doors and hinges to make sure that they are working.
-If your apartment has a fireplace, make sure that it is clean and working properly.
General Areas
-Check for cracks or stains on walls.
-Remove all tacks and/or nails from the walls and spackle the holes left behind.
-Clean windows and window sills.
-Test ceiling fans, air conditioners and heaters to make sure they are functioning properly.
Don’t Forget To
-Empty all drawers.
-Pack everything that you brought with you to the apartment 
-Vacuum the furniture.

Schedule an appointment with your landlord to walk through your apartment. Have on hand the written record and photographs that you compiled when you first moved in. Refer to your records if any preexisting damages are attributed to you. Create a checklist that you and your landlord can review during the walk through. If everything meets with the approval of the landlord, you and he/she should sign the checklist and both of you should retain a copy. Be sure to leave your landlord your new address if the deposit is not available immediately after your walk through.