Obtaining a Refund for Your Security Deposit

The subject of the security deposit is a sensitive one for many renters. Most renters believe they will receive their security deposit in full if there is no significant damage to the apartment.

However, this is rarely the case because a variety of factors influence whether the security deposit or a portion of the deposit is returned to the renter when they vacate the premises.

Obtaining a Refund for Your Security Deposit
Obtaining a Refund for Your Security Deposit

Did you cause any significant harm?

Major damage to the apartment, such as putting holes in the walls, breaking appliances, or tearing up the flooring, may justify keeping the security deposit, but even in these cases, the leasing agent must justify these costs. In other words, the leasing agent cannot justify keeping the entire security deposit based on a single damaged item. Rather, the leasing agent is required to estimate the cost of repairing the item. If the estimated cost of repairing the apartment is high enough to justify not returning the security deposit, the renter should be informed.

Is your apartment sufficiently clean?

Before the tenant vacates the property, all apartments should be thoroughly cleaned. This should include a thorough cleaning of all apartment rooms, including the bedrooms, bathrooms, and any common areas. All of the blinds in the apartment should be cleaned as part of the cleaning. Blinds can be difficult to clean, and many leasing agents charge around $10 per blind if they believe they need to be cleaned. If there are a lot of windows in the apartment, this can quickly add up.

When a resident vacates a property, many leasing agents perform several standard cleaning functions. This could include cleaning the refrigerator, shampooing the carpet, or repainting the walls. When these items are required, there is usually a fee for each item. In many cases, adding up these required fees yields a figure that is likely to be close to the amount of the security deposit. Furthermore, leasing agents frequently only permit one hour of cleaning services to prepare an apartment for the next residents. This is rarely enough time to complete the work, so renters are charged an additional hourly fee.

Have you gone over your contract documents?

Renters who want to maximize their chances of receiving a large portion of their security deposit back should be very familiar with their contract documents. This is important both while living in the apartment and when preparing to leave the apartment. While living in the apartment, it is critical to be familiar with the contract terms because it can prevent the renter from making decorating choices that are expressly prohibited by the rental agreement. These types of decisions can be costly in the long run because the leasing agent may assess the renter for perceived damages.

As they prepare to vacate the property, renters should carefully review the contract documents. This is significant because it may assist the renter in cleaning and repairing the apartment following the leasing agent's guidelines. This increases the likelihood that the renter will not be charged exorbitant fees at the end of the rental agreement.