Departure Process: Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Tenant
Before you depart the unit, you should fill out the departure side of the “unit condition form” or if one wasn’t provided, add to the list you created at the beginning of your stay. To be the most thorough, you should schedule a walk-through with your landlord and/or leasing agent to review the “unit condition report” with you and have them and you sign off on the written form/list and date it. This way, when it comes to getting your security deposit back, you will already be prepared about what to expect.
- Research the amount of days your landlord/community has to refund your full or remaining security deposit. This varies by state. In CA for example, the landlord only has a 21 day window to get these refunded. Most other states are 30 days unless otherwise specified.
- If any damages were deducted from the security deposit, the landlord/community/leasing agent must send over a detailed statement showing what was deducted from the security deposit. If you have all of your ducks in a row including before and after photos with a time date stamp and your copy of the unit’s condition upon arrival and departure, you should be able to fight any damages that have been taken out if you didn’t do them.
- The landlord/agents are entitled to do their own inspection report once you have moved out of the unit. During this inspection, damages that might not have been identified on the unit condition form may be found once the unit is free of the tenant’s possessions. If applicable, these items will be deducted from the security deposit.
- If a cleaning fee wasn’t charged up front, then cleaning charges may be deducted from the security deposit. If there are any damages to the carpets, the tenant can be charged for the useful life of the carpet or the remaining life. For example, the carpet is 8 years old but it was expected to last for 10 years. The initial cost of the carpet was $1,000. The tenant cannot be charged the full amount but they can be charged for $200 which would add up to be the remaining 2 years left on the carpet.
Taking photos and recording details of any damages in the unit no matter how small prior to moving in and out can be huge when it comes down to getting your full security deposit back once you move out.
Be sure you submit any correspondence between you and the landlord/leasing agent in writing. As always, before signing any contract, be sure to do all your research ahead of time so you know what you are getting yourself into.
We hope this series of posts was helpful for all current and future renters. 🙂