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Getting Your Security Deposit Back

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Marina Shlomov - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Whether you’ve just started searching for East Point rental houses or are about to move out of your rental home, getting your security deposit back in full is something you should always keep in mind when leasing. The security deposit is a fee paid when you first sign a lease and is usually equal to the cost of one month’s rent. With that much money on the line, you’ll want to ensure you take all the necessary steps to avoid losing your deposit.

After you find rental properties and select the one that meets your needs or at least before you hand your keys back over to your landlord, take a look at these common mistakes, which could potentially cost your security deposit.

The “Normal Wear and Tear” Clause

As with most locations, rental housing in East Point, GA, usually involves signing some sort of lease or agreement with a landlord. In that lease, there is most likely a clause that states the tenant must leave the rental property as they found it, minus “normal wear and tear.” What exactly is considered “normal?"

Normal wear and tear should be gauged depending on the renters. For example, a definition of that phrase for a family of four might be vastly different than for a couple without children. Your landlord should take this into consideration when looking over your rental home. Some things that might count as normal wear and tear include faded paint and a few small nail holes in the walls.

However, if your rental house suffers from any of the following issues, you might want to consider getting them fixed before moving out:

  • Stains, burns or holes in the carpet
  • Broken blinds, windows or fixtures
  • Large holes in the walls or doors
  • Scratches or other deep marks on glass
  •  Any pet-related damage

The Little Things Add Up

Even if you don’t have any of the bigger problems listed above, keep in mind the little things can add up. A few scuffs here, a small stain there and before you know it, your landlord has refused to give you back your full security deposit. Over the course of the time you spend living in a rental home, there will probably be repairs that need to be made. Don’t put these off! Your landlord or property management company should be prompt and attentive with any issues you notify them of so get them taken care of right away.

Before You Move In

It’s a good idea to take some pictures of your empty rental home before you move in. This way, you’ll have physical documentation of the condition the place was in when you first got the keys. If you notice any existing damage, bring it to the attention of your landlord and make sure to get in writing they were notified. Having some sort of record of the state of the rental before you moved in can be a huge help when it comes time to move out.

Before You Move Out

After your possessions are boxed, labeled and loaded into the moving truck, make sure you give your rental home a once over to check for any major damages. This will help to make sure you get every penny of your security deposit back.

It’s important to take the time to do a thorough cleaning or have a professional service do it for you. Make sure you get the spots in your home you may have overlooked before, such as the grout and tracks in the shower or tub. Leaving your rental home dirty when you move out can result in a charge, which will be deducted from your deposit. 

Ask your landlord if they have a move out policy or a list of things to be done before moving out. And of course, don't forget landscaping. Do cut the grass, trim the bushes and remove all items from the front and back yard.

Items to look for during the final cleaning of your rental home:

  • Remove surface dirt (grease, grime and dust)
  • Pay particular attention to cleaning kitchen appliances and bathrooms
  • Make sure showers, tubs, sinks and toilets are cleaned thoroughly
  • Kitchen appliances need to be thoroughly cleaned and satirized
  • Grease, grime or baked-on oil need to be removed
  • Make sure the refrigerator is empty and clean
  • Check all cabinets and make sure they are empty and clean
  • Remove all items from cupboards and closets
  • Remove all personal items from the rental property
  • Sweep, vacuum and clean hardwoods
  • Replace all burned-out light bulbs and smoke detector batteries
  • Do not Spackle (touch-up) walls to fill nail or screw holes or trim

Though it might take a few extra minutes, ask your landlord to do a walk-through of the rental with you. This way, he or she can point out anything you may have missed and it’s less likely you’ll get hit with a charge you didn’t deserve or expect. If all is in good condition, your landlord should send your security deposit to you within a month, depending on the area in which you live. If the check never comes, try sending a letter to your landlord before taking more extreme measures, such as small claims court.

If you would like to learn more about leasing a house in Stone Mountain, East Point, College Park or Decatur, contact us. Our experienced property management company can help you find rental properties in your ideal location.

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