How to Legally Guarantee That You Will Get Your Security Deposit Back

Security deposits are one of the many annoying things about renting a house or apartment . You have to fork out a lot of extra money up front before you can move in – on top of the original month’s rent, plus the final month’s rent they may charge – with the idea that it will be used for a major renovation to fix any damage that you can reason by living there. You are eligible to have it back when you move out as long as the apartment is in good condition, which can literally stop your hand the next time you want to break through a wall because the landlord couldn’t fix your leaky sink, but we’ve all heard horror stories about people who weren’t given them back for completely arbitrary reasons.

Don’t assume your deposit is lost because of a manic landlord. You do have some rights here.

How can a landlord use a deposit?

According to Find Law , which collects various state laws regarding security deposits, landlords can use your money for several different purposes that vary from state to state. In most states, a landlord is not allowed to use this money to cover “normal wear and tear” repairs, such as stains on walls or damage to carpet, that may result from frequent use. If you burn a hole in something, cause water damage, or do something more serious that the landlord needs to fix before anyone else moves in, they can use your security deposit to make repairs. If you don’t pay rent, landlords can also use this bond to cover you in some states.

What can you do to secure your deposit

If you want to ensure the safe return of your deposit, inspect the apartment upon moving in and make a detailed report of any maintenance issues. If and when you ask them to repair, make sure you keep records. When leaving, walk around this place again. If the damage you previously noted is still present, note it in your records. If there is no damage, then this must also be indicated. If you don’t keep records, the landlord can easily tell you to pay damages, which may or may not be.

Each state has different laws that determine how long your landlord must return your deposit to you. In most cases, they should provide you with a detailed report of the repairs they made. All remaining money after the repair is completed must be returned to you.

Most states require this refund, whether full or adjusted, within 14 to 60 days of your departure. In most cases, they must also provide you with a list of deductions. If they don’t, you’re usually legally entitled to get all your money back. One Reddit poster even shared how they countersued their landlord for a damaged carpet claim because the landlord did not provide a list of deposit deductions by the state deadline. According to Redditor, the landlord sued for $4,000 but ended up having to pay them $2,000.

You must keep a record of property damage (or lack thereof) and read the laws that protect you in your state. The main thing to remember is that if your landlord makes it hard for you to get your deposit back, you have options – and you can even make extra money if they don’t follow the law.

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