Plenty of anxieties come along with moving from one place to another.
For many people, high on this list of worries is whether or not you’ll get your security deposit back after all those ridiculous week-long parties you threw and keeping an alpaca as a pet.
As someone who is a rental property owner (on top of being a renter) here’s how I treat repairs when I’m greedily eyeing your security deposit.
Do a thorough walk-through
It may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many renters don’t participate in an initial walk-through before signing a lease. If I’m going to live there, not only do I want to make sure that the space is livable, I want to give myself the opportunity to make note of any damages that I might be charged for if I were to be mistakenly blamed for them when I move out.
Damages I and some other landlords will overlook
As a landlord, I am generally very forgiving when it comes to charging outgoing renters for repairs that could be attributable to normal wear and tear. This might include having to replace a set of blinds because a few of the slats have gotten warped or having to re-paint the walls after several years. Because some of my units are in the southern U.S., I also err on the side of being more generous when it comes to repairing or replacing air conditioner units.
Damages I won’t overlook
My exception to this is where the renter has made a very clear violation of the agreed upon terms of our lease.
A couple real life examples are that I have made a renter pay for pretty extreme cigarette smoke damage in the bedroom, and have also made a renter pay extra to have the carpets cleaned using pet-specific products.
For the latter, I think this is still pretty reasonable considering that in the situations where I have allowed pets, paying to clean with these products has been part of the contract.
Tips to use during move-in and move-out to avoid losing your security deposit
Having experienced this from both sides, I would say that the most important factor in getting your security deposit back is having a landlord who is a reasonable person.
In that regard, Check out Home Start.
That said, in terms of things that are more within your control, I would suggest being meticulous with your rental agreement. Don’t be afraid to cross out lines on the document to make it accurate, and make note of damages that are already there as you’re moving in. And take pictures of everything as you’re moving in.
There has been at least one occasion where a departing renter wasn’t sure whether damage existed when he moved in, my property manager was pretty sure that it was new damage, the prior damage wasn’t documented anywhere, and that the renter paid in the end.
Oh, and this too may seem obvious, but at least do a quick surface cleaning when you’re moving out. Filling and painting over nail holes that you used to hang frames is nice, as is mopping and vacuuming.
At an absolute minimum, don’t leave all kinds of trash on the floor — including food waste. I wish I could say that this was a hypothetical request…
Anyhow, anyone have horror stories when it comes to losing a security deposit?