Get Your Security Deposit Back
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When it comes to the whole move out process, security deposits are kind of like gold. Whether you’re strapped for cash or not, anticipating the return of your hard earned money is a great if not slightly nerve-racking feeling. If you aren’t paying attention, many deductions by the landlord can be justified. Fear not; with a little elbow grease and some proactive planning, you’ll be much more likely to get your security deposit back.
Notify Your Landlord
When you have made the firm decision that you will be moving, you will need to notify your landlord as soon as possible. Typically, a sufficient notice is 30 days prior to your move-out, but be sure to check your lease…many new buildings require 60 days written notice. If you notify your landlord too late, you will be charge pro rata rent to fulfill your required notice….nothing sucks more than paying rent for days you aren’t even living somewhere. The obvious and most trackable way to inform your landlord is by emailing your notice…however some property management companies do require you to fill out their specific form and will not accept your notice until it is in that required format. If they ask you for this, don’t hesitate! They won’t start counting until that form is in. If you have any roommates, make sure you are all copied on the notice…again many companies require all lease signers to have signed off on the notice to vacate.
Request A Walk-Through
Once you’ve informed your landlord that you are moving, request a walk-through of the unit. It wouldn’t hurt to record this request via email as well. On a walk through with your landlord, you can work together to put together a list of what needs to be done to ensure you get as much of your security deposit back as possible. Have your landlord tell you which items have the potential for incurring deductions and what you can do to correct it. Requesting a formal list of all possible charges afford you the opportunity to address any issues and dispute any deductions that are not on this list. *Be aware* that once this request is made, you will most likely be responsible for anything you choose not to fix as well as anything that happens after the initial move out inspection.
Clear Everything Out
In the weeks leading up to your move, you will need to remove everything from the unit. Anything left behind becomes your landlord’s physical and financial burden, and you may become responsible for any related costs. Don’t assume that anything left behind (cleaning supplies, appliances, painted walls, etc.) will benefit the landlord without first confirming this with them; again, get it in writing. Everything left behind can be charged to you as Trash Removal. If you are just beginning the process of searching for a new place, do yourself a favor and begin paring down now. Take on this task one drawer/closet/room at a time and you’ll thank yourself when your moving date arrives. You can check out our top packing tips here.
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Put It Back The Way It Was
Leave your apartment in the same condition you received it. Whether or not you view any changes as upgrades, most landlords like to keep their properties consistent for future renters. If you made changes that were time consuming or cannot be reversed, check with your landlord – they may approve of the improvement. If the changes were not approved, do all that you can to return things to as close to the original as possible.
Reserve Ample Time To Clean
Every room, every surface, every nook and cranny should be sparkling clean….this ALWAYS takes longer than you anticipate. To ensure that minimal cleaning fees are deducted from your security deposit, you want to leave your home looking as good as new. You can choose to do it yourself, hire your own cleaning service or accept the charges from your landlord’s cleaning service. It might be worth the cost to have a professional handle the deep clean required for new tenants, but if you decide to clean it yourself, consider asking for a cleaning checklist from the landlord that clearly outlines expectations.
Request A Final Apartment Check
Schedule a final walk-through in advance for the day of your move. Perform a final apartment check with your landlord and have him tell you what was fixed appropriately and what items are still outstanding. This should help reduce any surprises in your refund. *If the landlord/property manager isn’t available for a walk thru, take video or photos. Show the carpet and walls in each room, open appliances and cabinets in the kitchen and show the condition of the bathrooms.
Return Any Items Issued To You
All room keys, mail keys, parking passes, key fobs, etc. should be returned to your landlord before your departure. Anything not turned in may result in a deduction from your security deposit. To ensure a safe and easy return for your landlord and yourself, place all items in an envelope, date it and physically turn it in to your landlord.
Provide A Valid Address
To ensure you receive your security deposit in a timely manner, provide your landlord with a valid mailing address. If it has been longer than three weeks since your move and you have not received it, reach out to ensure it has been sent. When you receive your security deposit, check to ensure it includes an explanation of any deductions taken. If you have any questions, reach out to your (former) landlord immediately; the longer you wait, the harder it will be to negate any charges…most of the time you only have 15-30 days to dispute the charges.
Equal Housing Opportunity Rental providers will not refuse to rent a rental unit to a person because the person will provide the rental payment, in whole or in part, through a voucher for rental housing assistance provided by the District or federal government.