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. 🙂
Last week, we covered rental agreements and security deposits. This week, we will be discussing a unit maintenance that may arise while you are leasing a property. As a renter, you must take responsibility for any unit damages that were the fault of yourself, anyone staying in the property, your guests, family members, and/or pets. If you company is the lease holder, you will still be fiscally responsible for any damages you may cause during your stay.
- The lease agreement that you or your company signs will outline in detail what the landlord’s responsibility would be in terms of any maintenance issues. If any damage can be deemed a defect in the unit not caused by tenant negligence or fault, then the landlord would be required to fix these issues. Some of the items that might be the landlord’s responsibility might include: Faulty wiring; Structural damage; leaking plumbing; mold; rust, etc.
- If ever there are any issues that the tenant feels are the landlord’s responsibility, the landlord needs to be notified immediately.
- The landlord also needs to be notified ASAP if there are any major maintenance issues such as a burst pipe; broken furnace/heater; backed up sewage, etc.
- It is best to submit any requests to the landlord by phone and in writing.
Again, be sure you know the real-estate laws regarding any maintenance issues in the state you are residing in and be sure that you go over this section in the lease in detail with your landlord.
Stick around for our final post next week regarding a renter’s rights and responsibilities regarding the departure process.
Last week, we covered doing a detailed inspection before you sign any agreement. This week, we will be covering some of the different aspects of real-estate laws in regards to rental agreements and security deposits. Each state’s laws vary regarding leasing agreements and security deposits. Be sure to do research prior to signing anything on the specific state’s real-estate laws. Below are some helpful hints and tips to make you an informed renter:
- Know what type of agreement you are signing beforehand. Is it set for a fixed departure date? Are you able to extend your departure date if you haven’t submitted notice?
- Find out what other fees are associated to the rental. Is there a non-refundable cleaning fee? If you have a pet, are you going to be charged an additional pet fee? Do you have to pay for a rental credit check?
- Ask when rent is due and find out if you have a grace period before any late fees are assessed.
- If a security deposit is required (which most of time it is) find out if it is refundable after you depart. If so, how many days do they have to refund this back to you? This varies by state. In most states, security deposits cannot be non-refundable, but other non-refundable fees can be charged as long as they are separate from the security deposit.
- Be aware that furnished rentals are generally a higher price for rent, deposits, and fees.
Doing your own research beforehand will make you the most informed renter. Some state laws are geared to be more in the tenant’s favor, like California, while others like Colorado lean towards the property owner’s favor.
Join us next week when we discuss maintenance issues.
Finding the perfect housing solution to meet your needs can be a hectic, time consuming process. Save yourself some headaches by knowing up front what type of housing you require; the neighborhoods you would be comfortable living in; and if possible, walk all possible rentals prior to signing anything.
In this four week series, we will be covering the various aspects of smart renting and the steps that should be followed before signing a legally binding agreement. Below are some helpful hints and tips regarding a unit’s condition prior to arrival:
- Always inspect the interior of a rental with the landlord or leasing agent prior to signing a lease.
- Take photos of any and all damages and also complete a “condition upon arrival” form within 24 hours of moving in.
- If this form is not provided, make sure to document all damages in writing too.
- These items should include:
- Mold and odors;
- Rusty water;
- Faulty electrical wiring/outlets/light switches;
- Inadequate heating/A/C;
- Damaged furnishings (if applicable) and appliances;
- Damage to the floors/carpets/baseboards;
- Any signs you may see that there are insects or rodents living in the premises.
Have the landlord and/or leasing agent sign a copy of either the form they provided or the written report about all damages that you created. Keep a copy of this form in a safe place for your records and so you can refer to this when you fill out the same information when you move out.
- Check out the exterior of the building(s), common areas including courtyards, hallways, parking, and dumpsters and determine if these areas are in good condition and are well maintained.
As always, if you get an uneasy feeling about a particular complex or unit, do not sign any agreement until you are 100% satisfied with your new home.
Stay tuned for more on your rights and responsibilities as a renter next week. 🙂