Being a renter definitely has its pros and cons. One of the pros is that you don’t have to worry about paying for all the upkeep of the property–ideally your landlord is the one that should take care of things breaking down in the house. Also, there is the flexibility of being able to pick up and move once your contract is finished. No worries about having to sell that sucker!
There are some cons to renting too. One of them is paying the security deposit and hoping that you get all of it, or most of it back. When paying for your security deposit it’s usually meant to cover damages beyond normal wear and tear. (Your contract may stipulate other things in addition). Now “normal wear and tear”…what the heck?? What does that even mean? It’s a super vague statement that can be a source of disagreement between landlord and tenant.
Well to ensure that you get that security deposit back, here are 5 tips:
- Take pictures, take pictures, take pictures!
I cannot emphasize this enough. When moving in, take pictures of every little thing that your landlord could ding you on. See that hole in the wall? Take a picture. That little scratch on door frame? Take a picture. Yes, it’s time-consuming and annoying. But believe me, you will be happy you did it when move out! It’s good to have time-stamped proof to show the landlord that that damage he says you incurred, was in fact there when you move in.
- Use a move-in checklist
Inspect the property with your landlord and a move-in checklist in hand. This actually is law in some states, but not in all. It may be your responsibility to write one up if your landlord doesn’t. Make sure that you do a walk-through with your landlord at the very beginning of the contract and have both you and him sign it. This is further proof for you when move-out comes around.
- Be there for inspection when you move out.
We live in Missouri, where it is state law that the renter has a right to be there when the landlord inspects the property before move out. Make sure that you are there when this happens! It maybe be an awkward situation, but it’ll save you in the long run if you can defend yourself or promise to fix up certain things before you move.
- Did I mention take pictures??
Yup! When you move out, take pictures that are time-stamped. It’s proof of the state of the house when you move out, and that the giant hole in the wall that the landlord made while tinkering in the house, was in fact not there when you moved out.
- There is always small claims court.
It’s surprisingly easy and usually not too expensive to file for small claims court. In Missouri you fill out about 3 pieces of paper and pay about $50 (depending on the county) and you are done. Then they give you a court date where you can stand in front of a judge and plead your case. If you do steps 1-4, you will have a solid case against your landlord if he decides to withold your deposit.
Good luck and happy renting!
I want to know…
Do you have any more tips on getting your deposit back?