We all know moving can be one of life’s biggest stressors and everyone’s least favorite activity.
Moving out of an apartment can be a daunting process – as there are many items that can affect your security deposit if they aren’t addressed. Before you do anything, read your lease! It will often indicate any move-out protocols, checklists, inspections, and other requirements if needed.
Security Deposit Deductions
A landlord, company, or property owner can deduct money from the tenant’s security deposit for:
- The cost of fixing any damages to the property caused during the tenancy. This does not include ordinary wear and tear.
- The cost of cleaning the unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in (less reasonable wear and tear).
- Any unpaid rent (including rent owed if the tenant does not give the landlord the proper notice that he or she is moving out).
- To avoid lease-break fees, be sure you’ve written your notice to vacate letter and given at least 30 days’ notice (or whatever timeframe is indicated in the terms of your lease). Check your lease to see the preferred protocols.
When Can Security Deposits NOT Be Withheld
- The landlord or rental company can withhold funds from the security deposit that are necessary and reasonable, and not a result of “ordinary and reasonable wear and tear.” For example, a landlord may not make tenants pay for painting, new carpets, or curtains unless they are damaged beyond ordinary and reasonable wear and tear.
- The landlord cannot use the tenant’s security deposit to repair problems that existed in the unit before the tenant moved in.
Request an Initial Inspection
You are entitled to a “pre-inspection,” where the landlord, manager, or maintenance associate walks through your apartment and identifies defects or conditions that may be deductible from your security deposit. Request a pre-inspection so the landlord or community manager can note potential deductions and give you a chance to fix/remedy them.
We’ve put together a handy checklist of items to help you make sure you’ve prepared for your final inspection.
If you have an online leasing portal, check to ensure you don’t have an outstanding balance and pay all balances owed. If your apartment doesn’t have online payments, check with your landlord or community manager to ensure there are no surprises come move-out.
If you’ve broken something in your apartment, check with your landlord as to how to fix it. For example, if there is a hole in the wall, your landlord may not want you to patch and paint it as they may want it professionally fixed. Best practice? Ask.
Don’t forget there are a plethora of minor details you may forget – which, come moving day, can be a huge pain if forgotten. For example, if you are on an upper floor, booking elevator time will be critical to your sanity and the sanity of other residents.
Changing your address with usps.com, as well as leaving your forwarding address for your landlord or rental company to return your security deposit. And don’t forget to return all fobs and keys! Whatever type of home you move from, the moving process can be stressful. Organization and planning are key to making a busy and overwhelming time, a little bit easier.