How to Make Sure You Get Your Security Deposit Back

A security deposit is the money the tenant pays the property manager other than the rent paid in advance. The deposit protects the property manager in case the tenant violates or breaks the rental agreement or terms of the lease. The property manager may use the deposit to cover unpaid rent, damage to the property and other kinds of losses.

Will the Deposit Be Paid Back?
Before you move into an apartment, you must pay a security deposit. This deposit is promised to be given back to you provided that you do not damage the apartment during your stay. Many people have gotten burned by these promises, never getting their security deposit back from their property managers. So how do you ensure that you will get your security deposit back when you leave?

[ Related: 6 Questions to Ask When Touring an Apartment Community ]

At the very least, be sure to thoroughly clean your apartment before you move out.

All washed up: At the very least, be sure to thoroughly clean your apartment before you move out. (pedrojperez via Morguefile)

What You Can Do Before You Move In
Before you move in and pay the deposit, search the Internet for signs that other tenants have had problems in your building before. Many people will leave some kind of review if they have been taken advantage of. You can also search court records to see if there have been any legal suits brought against the management company. The Better Business Bureau has an online business directory that can show you if your property manager has been the target of complaints.

When You Move In
One of the best things you can do is document any damage or mechanical problems (small cracks, leaky faucets, doors that close improperly, etc.) you find in the apartment. Take pictures of each problem that you find, make a list and show the property manager. Have them put their signature on that list. You can mail this list to them by certified mail, so that they can look over the evidence that you have put together on the state of the apartment. Give them a time frame that they will have to sign off on the list. If they do not give it back within that time frame, they consent that the damage that has been done is not your responsibility.

[ Search: Find Apartments for Rent in McLean ]

When You Move Out
If your property manager tries to pull a fast one, you can take steps to fight it. Sometimes a property manager will try to keep your money by making up charges that are false. The first step you need to take is to get an itemized list from your property manager. Look for any charges that seem improper or do not make sense.

Another thing you should look for is the property manager trying to make you pay for replacing things that were not brand new when you moved in. Things like:

  • Carpet
  • Paint
  • Tile
  • Countertops
  • Doors

[ Related: What Happens If You’re Late With Your Rent? ]

You can challenge them that they should have to pay for part of the cost, since these things were not new when you moved in. You can also write your complaints to them in a letter and mail by certified mail. Even if you do not get your money back, you can make sure that others do not share your experience. Visit an apartment review website and describe your experience. This way, you can protect others from sharing your experience.

Find your next apartment in the area with Apartment Showcase.

You may also like...