Oh boy. Today is a topic that will hit home for a lot of Austin residents.
If there is one thing landlords are notorious for, it is keeping your deposit when you move out. Very few people actually do the things necessary to ensure that you have a legitimate claim to your original deposit.
They will take even the slightest discrepancy, and use that to justify their claim to your money. Many times they may be correct in doing this, but many times they are not.
Getting all your money back will require a certain amount of foresight and organization. This blog post will help give you an idea of what it takes to actually make this happen.
Actually go through the damage checklist
Generally, apartments and homeowners provide you with a checklist – one that you must sign in order to live there – of basically every appliance, nook, and cranny in your home and their current condition.
Now, theoretically, you are supposed to go through each and every item to see what is damaged and what is not. This is where most people sigh and put down their John Hancock, resigned to their fate.
We know it’s a pain in the butt to do this when you move in. You’ve got so much on your mind already with the stress of moving. However, this is really where 30 minutes of work could save you hundreds of dollars down the road.
Go through each item, one by one, and list any damage you find. There is almost guaranteed to be something broken, missing, or damaged. These lists often have 50-100 items, and not every landlord does thorough inspections.
If you catch these now, you will not be financially responsible for them later.
Read your lease very carefully
This is a good habit for life, in general, but extra important if you don’t want to forfeit your deposit. There are likely terms in the contract that will nullify your right to your deposit payment, so make sure you follow the rules and plan ahead.
There are sometimes clauses about notifying your landlord of your move out date. Make sure you know what kind of notice is required before you make any decisions.
Take advantage of free repairs
Usually, landlords are responsible for repairing damages that occur to their property as a result of natural wear and tear (when they have tenants). It is certainly to your advantage to request repairs as soon as they are necessary.
That blind that broke off the track? Tell them today. Shower not draining properly? Tell them today. Smoke detector broken? Tell them today.
There is no reason why you should be responsible for these things if you plan ahead and exercise your tenant rights as they apply in Austin, Texas. Don’t be shy about it, you’ll appreciate it when you have that extra $400 in your pocket a year from now.
Always document these things. Put everything in paper. You may need it later.
Pay your rent on time
This one is fairly obvious, but still worth stating. Especially during your last month, you certainly can’t expect to get your deposit back if you haven’t ever paid all the rent you owe. Any money you owe to your landlord or apartment complex will certainly be taken from your deposit.
Hire a cleaning company
This one will largely depend on how big your deposit is. If you have a deposit of $150, it probably won’t be worth the money to pay a professional cleaning service to come out. Maid service can be expensive, and the best way to use it is for larger homes where you need to provide a significant amount of money up front.
For homes and apartments where this makes sense, a professional cleaning service can find and eliminate dirt and grime in areas you would never notice. If you do hire a service, make sure you hire one with an excellent record so you don’t have to worry about the top 5 commonly missed areas.
However, if you live in Austin and work as a first responder – Easyway Maid Service offers massive discounts that will make it worth your while for active police, fire, and EMS workers.
If you’re absolutely set on doing it yourself, we have a variety of tips and articles on this blog to help you out. See Melamine Sponges, Your New Home Cleaning Weapon.
Follow up with your landlord or leasing office
Giving you your money back is not going to be a top priority for anyone renting their property.
Don’t wait for the deposit to magically appear in your bank. Even if you do everything right, you could still lose your deposit simply by forgetting to ask about it!
Call, email, keep following up! Make sure they know you are not not going to back down or forget about your hard earned cash.
If you do everything right, the above tips should be more than enough to recover your initial deposit and have a smooth, painless moving process.