Featured News 2013 Security Deposits: Knowing Your Rights and What to Do About Them

Security Deposits: Knowing Your Rights and What to Do About Them

Unfortunately, not all landlords even know the state laws about security deposits. For those who do know the law, not all landlords will follow it. That is why it is imperative that you understand what you are entitled to under the law. This will require preparing for your security deposit even before you think about leaving your place. If you take the right actions, you should get your full deposit quickly returned to you.

If your lease is month-to-month, this means you have to give your landlord enough notice that you will be leaving. In most parts of the country, this usually means you need to give a notice of 30 days. Otherwise, you could be charged more rent, and this can be deducted out of your security deposit. When you give your landlord notice, be sure to copy this notice, send it through certified mail, and request a return receipt. This can be helpful documentation if you need to go to small claims court.

If you have to leave before your tenancy is up, you can have other tenants rent the place from you. If you do not sublease your place, then a landlord who does not find a new tenant could charge you rent through to the end of the lease. This will probably mean your security deposit will be entirely spent on this. When you have roommates and you are the only one leaving, you will have to work with your roommates and landlord to get your portion of the deposit before the others. Under the law, a landlord does not have to give you a deposit when another cotenant is still living in the place.

In most states, you can be there when a landlord runs a final inspection of the place. If you are there, you can know what issues to deal with on the property so that you do not lose out on your deposit. Also make sure you understand exactly what a landlord wants from the property, so that you do not under or overcompensate.

Before you move out, you will need to do a fantastic cleaning job and to repair whatever needs it. When you move out, everything needs to be gone from the property, food, cleaning supplies, trash, everything. You may need to keep track of your every repair and cleaning at the end. Pictures, videos, and witnesses can testify to the before and after's of the property. It is absolutely imperative that you leave a forwarding address with the landlord. Some states allow landlords to hold on to your deposit if he or she cannot find you in time.

Usually speaking, a landlord will have two to three weeks after you move away to send you a detailed list of how your deposit has been spent, and however much is left of your deposit. There may be potential deductions listed as well. A landlord can usually spend your deposit on back rent, or other outstanding bills. The deposit can be used on repairs and cleaning from after you leave as well. You should not be penalized for the normal wear and tear that using property entails. If a landlord fails to follow through on what you are owed, or you object to certain deductions, then you can try to work it out with the landlord yourself. Get a resolution in writing, as this will be binding. If you cannot achieve a negotiation, you can send the landlord a demand letter, requesting a return of your deposit. If you want to go to small claims court, this letter is usually necessary. You may want legal help to write a demand letter that includes all the information necessary.

Every state has different laws, so it is vital that you consult an expert on the matter. Talk to a real estate attorney about your rights and what courses of action you have at your disposal. If you need to go to small claims court, legal counsel can again be invaluable. Many of these matters are time sensitive, so call a real estate attorney today!

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