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What Can Be Deducted from My Security Deposit?

Whenever you rent out an apartment, it is a typical protocol to pay a security deposit. This is usually the cost of one month’s rent. Your landlord will tell you that you may get your security deposit back at the end of your lease if everything is in good condition. But who really knows what good condition actually is and what can actually be deducted from your security deposit? 

You can ask your landlord to put in writing exactly what your security deposit covers, and then you can expect them to use it on those specific damages. But what exactly is normal wear and tear on a lived-in apartment? We’ve all seen a scuff on the floor from moving furniture, or a small ding on the wall when you rounded the corner trying to move in your bed frame. So will every little thing count against you? Let’s take a look at what is considered normal wear and tear and what will really ding you on your security deposit.

How Could I Lose My Security Deposit?

There are a few things that will absolutely ensure that you will not be receiving your security deposit back and some of those reasons would include the following.

Turning in a dirty rental

It is not your landlord’s responsibility to clean up after you if you move out. Whenever you move in, your apartment (should have been) clean and “move-in ready.” You are expected to leave your apartment in the same condition that it was given to you. This means, clean out those refrigerators, and throw away the last bit of trash on your way out. It’s a typical rule of thumb that after you move out you should go ahead and do a deep clean to keep your landlord happy and save him from having to hire a professional cleaning service.

Moving out without notice

Leases are in place to protect you but also to protect your landlord from having to pay the mortgage on a rental if the tenant decides to up and leave without proper notice. Typically a lease is up after a year and a landlord requires at least a month’s notice before you move out. If you need to move out sooner, some landlords will work with you but usually, you can assume you will not receive your security deposit back if this is the case.

Not Paying Utilities

If you are not paying your utilities on time, if you typically pay them to your landlord, they have the right to deduct that from your security deposit. However, many utilities are either figured into rent or paid separately to the utility company in your town.

Not Paying Rent

If a tenant moves out and has not been paying rent, the landlord can also keep the security deposit and put it toward the rent that they are owed. A simple rule of thumb is never to be late on your rent. You want to stay in good graces with your landlord and this is an easy way to be kicked out and lose your security deposit. If you need to change the date of when you pay rent, just be upfront and honest with your landlord and they are typically more than willing to work with you. 

Leaving items behind

If you have moved out and left behind items that you just didn’t want to move, your landlord can keep your security deposit to pay for the price to hire someone to remove your belongings. This goes back to cleaning before you leave. If you want to get rid of something, you can donate it or throw it away but do not just leave it behind for your landlord to dispose of.

Not documenting existing damages

Whenever you move into an apartment, the first thing you should do is make a list, with photos, of all the damages that you see in the apartment. Share this with your landlord and save it for when you move out as well to save your own behind. If you do not document these damages, your landlord may pin them on you and use your security deposit to repair them.