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Getting Security Deposits Back

CarpyCarpy Registered User regular
It's my opinion based on both my own experience and those of friends that the idea of security deposits for housing is kind of scam. I mean that you probably aren't getting much if any of it back because cleaning/repairs are going to magically cost whatever the deposit was, no matter how much effort you put into cleaning the apartment before you moved out. I'm getting ready to move soon and looking for tips that people might have to increase how much of my own money I can try to get back.

Currently planning on asking about what cleaning and carpet cleaning company they use to hire them to clean my place and then when they try to withhold money asking for an itemized receipt of what they are charging me for. Any thing else I can try?


  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    I've always gotten all or almost all of my deposits back. When we bought our house last year, I think we lost $50 out of the $1000 of our deposit. It was definitely under $100. I always just rented a Rug Doctor or whatever to clean the carpet. Check your rental stuff, though, because some say they will deduct X for cleaning regardless. If they're cleaning the carpets anyway, don't waste your time. Otherwise, just do a good job of cleaning the place from top to bottom and leaving it in as close as a condition as you got it. Remove scuffs on walls and that kind of stuff with a Magic Eraser. Dust everything, clean the grout, mop the floors, etc. You can also take pictures of everything after you're done. It may vary by state (assuming US) but typically they have to provide you with an itemized list of what they deducted for when they give your deposit, so pictures could help if they're claiming BS.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Yep, they have to provide an itemized list of repairs in almost every state in the US and the costs have to be of accepted market value. They also have to provide you both list and check within 30 days in many stats (less in a few).

    From the Renter's side of things the security deposit is a means to ensure some culpability of loss when your tenant leaves with holes in the walls, broken appliances, and mold everywhere. Carpet and painting isn't free, and repairs can often be much, much more than the deposit depending on the quality of the tenant.

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    Painting is one of those things that is expected to be done for each tenant though. Also things have a shelf life and "should" be replaced when it lapses and you "shouldn't" be charged for replacing those items past its serviceable life

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Mold is also not the responsibility of a tenant unless it was caused by them. IE, dumping water on the floor to grow some mushrooms or something equally stupid. If there's mold behind the wall of the shower, that's the landlord's responsibilities.

    As mts said, things have an acceptable life to get reimbursement for them.

    In most states:

    They can also only get reimbursement for however much life is remaining, and however much of the area is damaged. If only 10% of the carpet needs, they can only seek 10% in damages and based on a % of however long the acceptable life is. If the carpet only lasts 7 years, and it's been there 10, they can't get bananas in most cases.

    To agree with the above, they do have to provide you an itemized list. Make sure to ask them for receipts of work with the address of the unit, because it's not uncommon for them to have a boilerplate list they fire off for this stuff, and sometimes they don't even do half of what they send.

    For all those in this situation where their landlord said they always clean the carpet when you move out and to not waste your time doing it yourself, make sure you're not paying for that. In a lot of jurisdictions, if the landlord decides to do something de facto, there's a pretty good case to be made that your security deposit shouldn't cover it and it's part of the landlord's costs of doing business.

    I've gotten all my security deposit's back but one, the other was $100 and it wasn't even worth fighting because there was probably $100 worth of damage from pets.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited January 2015
    Only time I felt I got screwed on the security deposit was when I opted not to do the walk-through upon leaving. Inspect the place before you move your furniture in and document and report any damages or staining and then when moving out participate in (or request) a walk-through where property management will tell you what the issues are that might cause deductions from your security deposit.

    Djeet on
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    Higher-end, longer-term, professional renters generally will not try to jerk you around on your security deposit because the long term consequences of doing that systematically (i.e. eventually getting sued) are unlikely to be worth it. With small/private landlords or highly transient situations (student housing) you have to be a bit more careful.

    In any case the best approach as a tenant is to document stuff at the time you move in; make a list, take photos, report any damages or other out of order stuff to the landlord immediately. This does two things: catches any random incidental damage before you get charged for it down the road, and (sometimes more importantly) lets them know that you're paying attention and are thus a bad candidate for random fuckery.

    it was the smallest on the list but
    Pluto was a planet and I'll never forget
  • CarpyCarpy Registered User regular
    Thanks for the responses, it's good to hear people have good experiences getting deposits back. Entirely possible that I've had a mix of shitty landlords and haven't been persistent enough in getting mine.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2015
    For your next apartment, take pictures upon moving in, or do what my boyfriend and I do and take video (just walk through and take note of everything you find) and email it to the landlord/rental company within the first week, along with writing a detailed report on their damages form. We cover everything when we do this, from paint on the carpet to poor calking in the bathroom.

    If you have white walls, spakle your own small holes on the way out. Spakle is cheap, and its really easy. They are going to paint on the way out anyway, but the idea is that when you walk in with your land lord the place is essentially perfect, and their initial reaction will be that you are probably too maticulous to make it worth the effort. Being present on the walk through is something we always try and do.

    Also if you have carpet, invest in a few rugs for your major living areas, you will do far less damage to the carpet from just small spills.

    Iruka on
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    My lease explicitly states there is a $50 cleaning fee that I am responsible for, for when I move out, and that the security deposit will be returned on the final day of moving out assuming I am not responsible for any damages.

    Switch: SW-7690-2320-9238Steam/PSN/Xbox: Drezdar
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Drez wrote: »
    My lease explicitly states there is a $50 cleaning fee that I am responsible for, for when I move out, and that the security deposit will be returned on the final day of moving out assuming I am not responsible for any damages.

    You should check the legality of that. A lot of people put it in leases, a lot of leases have wildly illegal clauses in them just because no one bothers and they download this shit from the internet instead of getting a lawyer to draft one for their local tenant/landlord laws.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • Reverend_ChaosReverend_Chaos Suit Up! Spokane WARegistered User regular
    One thing a lot of people forget about when they move out of an apartment.
    -Clean the oven. Shouldn't take too long, and will likely save you $50 the landlord would charge you.
    -Pull out the oven and the fridge(CAREFULLY) and sweep under them.
    -Leave ZERO burnt out light bulbs
    -Dust the cupboards and the tops of the doors (and really the entire apartment)
    -Wash the windows

    “Think of me like Yoda, but instead of being little and green I wear suits and I'm awesome. I'm your bro—I'm Broda!”
  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    Also tack up the holes in the wall from hanging things. You can get a tube of dry wall sealant or epoxy for under 5 dollars. I'm betting your walls are white, like every other apartment, and you can just spread a tiny bit in, wipe it even with a wet paper towel.

    I've done that and the above suggestions (take photos of your place when you enter, if anything is seriously damaged have it added as a 'pre existing condition' on your lease, and clean up the place before you leave) and I've gotten all of my deposits back over five apartments.

    Oh, wait, I got charged like $25 because apparently I cracked the crisper drawer in one of the refrigerators cause I have a habit of just kicking it closed.

    I am in the business of saving lives.
  • Reverend_ChaosReverend_Chaos Suit Up! Spokane WARegistered User regular
    MegaMan001 wrote: »
    Also tack up the holes in the wall from hanging things. You can get a tube of dry wall sealant or epoxy for under 5 dollars. I'm betting your walls are white, like every other apartment, and you can just spread a tiny bit in, wipe it even with a wet paper towel.
    Truth. If you are in a pinch for time and can't get the dry wall sealant, and you have just pin holes from push pins or tiny nails, you can actually use toothpaste (Has to be white of course). It might not match the wall color exactly, but an off white dot on the wall is pretty much invisible as opposed to leaving the hole in the wall. Just put a tiny dab on your fingertip and wipe it down the wall where the hole is, wipe clean with a paper towel, and voila! no hole.

    Also, check your state and local laws, many states require that landlords paint between each tenent. A landlord or property owner who is required to, but does not, is typically a red flag for other silly goosery in the future.

    “Think of me like Yoda, but instead of being little and green I wear suits and I'm awesome. I'm your bro—I'm Broda!”
  • cabsycabsy the fattest rainbow unicorn Registered User regular
    We just got all of ours back, and the cleaning ladies who came in as we were leaving remarked that it's one of the cleanest moveouts they've seen and that you couldn't even tell we had pets in the apartment. During the initial move out process our apartment was nice enough that they scheduled a tenant to move in (temporarily) the same day we left. So I guess I would say that so far my first recommendation is make sure your apartment SHOWS super super nicely so that they can get someone in as soon as possible after you leave, because it'll make them much happier to work with you and it'll make the whole process a lot easier. We got showing times from our landlord and I made sure the house was basically showroom quality before they brought anybody through and we got compliments on how easy that made our place to rent out.

    It's too late now, but in general if you spill shit on the carpet make sure it doesn't stain. Spot cleaning or borrowing a carpet shampooer from time to time will keep you from ratty looking carpets in the future. Most places aren't really concerned about nail/tack holes unless they're seriously excessive; if you're hanging a few pieces of art, fine, if you're tacking up pictures all over your room like you're a teenager you might want to invest in a tube of spackle. Clean the fridge, freezer, oven, stove (including under the stovetop), windows, floors, tub/shower, sinks, and counters. Wipe down or dust cabinets, windowsills, heaters, doorknobs, doors, light switches, and light fixtures. If you're like us and you kept your trash can up near a wall, scrub the walls around that area to make sure they aren't nasty. In fact just wipe down the walls in general, I used a swiffer with those damp pads that are like cleaning wipes to just wipe down the walls especially in high traffic areas and the bathroom. Our old downstairs neighbor was a heavy smoker and so our bathroom, which must have been above a room he used to smoke in, would seep tar from the walls sometimes if you took a really hot shower; I made sure to wash all the walls and ceilings thoroughly. Same in the kitchen right around the stove area, the walls up by the ceiling were tacky because of the amount of cooking grease that ends up in the air, I cleaned all that really well. I wouldn't pull out the appliances because that could damage whatever flooring surface they're on, especially if it's shitty lino like it probably is; use a vacuum and get under there as best you can, instead. If you have carpets, vacuum the shit out of them. Magic eraser is good for small marks, but remember that it's basically micro sandpaper and it can fuck your walls up if you lean on it too heavily.

    Be honest with them in advance about what is broken, you may find out it isn't really a big deal anyway. I was stressed because our mini blinds were broken by the cats but apparently they aren't included in the apartment - they just leave the old window coverings from previous tenants if they're in good enough shape, and if they aren't they just throw them away. The main thing I've been screwed over by in the past is leaving even one or two small things in the apartment. They absolutely will charge you like $70 an hour for labor to carry a shoebox outside if they can get away with it.

    When we gave notice to vacate they gave us a detailed list of what they were going to look for in terms of cleanliness, though it turns out that most of that stuff is more than they really look for. In terms of cleaning, we really wanted the $800 back so we put a ton of effort into it and it was probably more than really necessary but I figured I'd rather put in the effort for $800 than not put in the effort. Most of this stuff I did over time in the last month we were in the apartment, like if I had a couple minutes where I wasn't busy I'd get out the swiffer and wipe down some walls, or I'd just add vacuum the hell out of the radiators to my regular weekly chores. If you're really concerned, you could always just ask your landlord directly what they're looking for at move out to make sure that you meet that benchmark. It will still depend on your landlord, too. If you live in a college town in a college-y complex, you're probably fucked, but it doesn't hurt to make it clear to your landlord that you aren't like all those shithead college kids who just ruin their stuff; YOU want to make sure that they have a good experience, unlike those jerkoffs they USUALLY have to deal with.

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