For those of us considering moving out of our rentals, securing your security deposit can be a make-it-or-break it moment for our finances, as you will most likely be needing a security deposit for wherever you’re headed. Unfortunately, many renters never see their security deposit again. Recently, Rent.com surveyed 1,000 U.S. renters, and the results were startling:
- More than a quarter (26 percent) of all renters have lost their security deposit at some point
- 37 percent of men and 44 percent of 18-24 year olds said they did not get their deposits back because they moved out early
- More women (9 percent than men (3 percent) lost a deposit due to pet damage
- 36 percent of renters who did not get their deposits back said the landlord gave no explanation
- This is likely illegal although tenant/landlord laws vary by state but according to several state law sites (ag.ny.gov, ca.gov, oag.state.tx.us, illinoisattorneygeneral.gov, mass.gov) the landlord must return the deposit less any lawful deduction.
If you’re renting, review the following tips—provided by rent.com–for maintaining your apartment and your relationship with your landlord:
“It’s better to beg forgiveness than ask for permission” does not apply here. When renting, it is always best to get written permission from your landlord before doing any renovations, changing paint color, etc.
Read your lease. Many renters miss the specific guidelines laid out by their landlord regarding the return of their deposit. A list should be made and agreed upon regarding the conditions of the apartment at the end of the lease BEFORE you sign it.
Snap a photo. It’s always a good idea to take some photos of the apartment when you first move in. Make sure they are time/date-stamped! Then repeat the process on move out day. This way pre-existing damage is documented and the blame cannot fall on you!
Be reasonable and your landlord might be too. There is no guarantee that a landlord will negotiate you breaking your lease but maybe there is a compromise that can be met. For instance, you could help find a replacement tenant, agree to pay rent for an additional number of months or until a new tenant is found, etc.