man with musical instruments

A General Guide to Security Deposits for Tenants

renting apartmentAs all of us renters know, a security deposit is a part of the lease where landlords add one to three months of rent to the first payment to ensure if any damage is done to the property they will be compensated. This is a completely legal and normal transaction, and it is highly unusual for a landlord not to have any security deposit. Once you move out, you get the security deposit back if the property has not sustained any notable damage.

As simple as a security deposits seem, when put into practice tons of different issues come up between landlords and tenants. As a tenant, it behooves you to know how to handle all the ins-and-outs of security deposits, so if any issues come up you know exactly how the process is supposed to work in theory.  The

Know the Terms of Your Lease
Every lease will specifically state information regarding the security deposit. When you sign your lease make sure that you read over this part (although you really should read the whole lease) and make note of the data held in this passage. It will help to know the exact conditions of your security deposit, so that your landlord does not surprise you with anything.

Discuss the Transaction with Your Landlord Before Moving Out
Taking the time to discuss the security deposit before signing the lease and a couple of months before moving out can make a difference. Just taking the time to communicate with someone will let you know their exact expectations out of the tenant. Keep in mind this may not be as viable of an option for landlords who manage tons of properties.

Also Send a Written Notice
More than 30 days before you move out send a written notice to alert the landlord of your intentions to leave. If you do not do this, in some cases the landlord may have the right to charge you for the time it takes to fill up your old space. When this happens you might as well say goodbye to that security deposit.

Know Your Rights
Every state has different laws when it comes to the rights of tenants. Research exactly what is allowed and not allowed in your state. If there are laws to protect you from abuse of landlords, you might as well take these to your advantage. Not to mention if any conflict does come up it never hurts to let a landlord know that you are specifically aware of your rights, so that they don’t think they are taking advantage of some oblivious buffoon.

carpet cleanerExpect your Landlord to Charge for Certain Expenses
Landlords will often charge for things like carpet cleaning, house cleaning and other misc. charges. You can inquire about these potential charges and even ask how you can avoid them. A common one that is charged for is carpet cleaning. It is a lot cheaper to just clean the carpet yourself by renting a carpet cleaner rather than having the landlord charge you for it.

Let The Landlord Know Your Forwarding Address
If a landlord does not know your forwarding address, they cannot send you a security deposit. In some states, if they do not know where to find you, they can actually keep the security deposit. Be sure to have a forwarding address of some sort or an arrangement to pick up the security deposit from the landlord.

Know You Won’t Get the Money Back Before You Move Out
Rarely will landlords agree to give you back a security deposit before you move out. Obviously, they cannot inspect your room thoroughly with all your items in it. Do not plan to have the security deposit back right away to help you pay for your next place.

The Landlord has a Deadline to Get Your Security Deposit Back
The length of how long a landlord has to get the security deposit depends on the state, but it usually spans somewhere between two and three weeks. If you do not receive the security deposit by this deadline contact your landlord. Before you move out it can be a good idea to ask around when you should expect the security deposit to help ease your mind.