After searching for the perfect place to rent and weighing all of the amenities, it’s finally time to sign. Signing the lease for a new place is the last part of the process, and the security deposit is a key factor. It’s important for renters to fully understand what their security deposit covers, and what they need to do to get it back at the end of the lease.
What You Need to Know About Your Security Deposit
The security deposit can be a significant portion of the upfront costs when renting, but sometimes renters don’t ask important questions about it. To help, we’ve broken each of these questions into easy-to-digest parts.
What is a Security Deposit?
First, it’s important to understand what a security deposit is. According to the Texas Apartment Association, it “helps cover any damages or unpaid money you may owe the property owner at the end of your lease.”
Damages are anything caused from negligence, accident, or abuse. Normal wear and tear cannot be deducted from the security deposit. However, accidents like spilling red wine on the carpet will likely lead to damages that come out of the security deposit.
Unpaid money you owe can be charges from late rent, missing fixtures, or items not returned.
Before You Sign
A security deposit is generally required at the time a lease is signed. It is usually combined with the first month’s rent, pet deposit, or other upfront costs. Keep in mind that this security deposit might be negotiable.
When the Lease is Over
Your security deposit really comes into play once the lease is over.
Oftentimes, apartment complexes and landlords charge cleaning fees if you leave trash, fail to empty closets, or have a dirty fridge. Ask a manager to walk the property with you upon move-out to point out anything you may have missed.
There are things you can do to help get back as much of your security deposit as possible, such as:
- Deep clean to your carpets
- Return all items such as pool keys, mail keys, etc.
- Clean out your fridge
- Throw away all items
- Don’t forget to scrub your bathtub and toilet.
If you are expecting to get your deposit back, there are some rules the landlord must uphold as well. For example, if they used part of the security deposit for anything, they must provide a written itemized list within 30 days of you moving out. However, if you have any outstanding dues, such as late payment fees, your landlord is not required to provide this list.
The check of the remaining balance must also be sent within 30 days of you moving out. Always leave a forwarding address so that this balance can get to you in a timely manner. Check in with your landlord or leasing department to find out the specifics of including a forwarding address. Some places require it in writing via email or through special documentation.