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How to Protect a Security Deposit

Moving into a new home or apartment is an exhausting and stressful period of time. The moment is usually filled with the excitement of new surroundings, so the last thought that is usually on someone's mind is the thought of what will happen when they move out. As exciting as it is to move into a new location, there are certain steps new renters should perform in order to ensure that the security deposit that they paid to the landlord will be returned to them at the termination of the lease agreement.

The Value of an Initial Walkthrough with the Landlord

One of the best options for a new renter is to do a walkthrough with the landlord just prior to occupying the property. This is a great way to point out specific problems that are noticed during the walkthrough and make the landlord aware of the condition of the property.

Negotiating with Your Landlord

If the unit was not properly cleaned prior to moving in, this can also be brought to the landlord’s attention and perhaps a reduction in the first month's rent in exchange for cleaning the property can be negotiated at this point.

While performing a walkthrough with the landlord prior to occupying the premises is not always possible, it is still important to take note of the condition of the property prior to taking possession after the lease agreement is signed. It is easier to discover problems when the interior space of the property is bare, so performing a diligent walkthrough prior to actually moving items into the premises is advisable.

Make a Checklist of Problems Noticed to Add to the Lease Agreement

Some of the things a new tenant should look for are indications of mold or mildew that would suggest underlying moisture problems. Damage and obvious wear and tear on the property should also be indicated and any additional problems found should be recorded on a move-in checklist that accompanies the lease agreement. This list will document all of the items that are included with the property at the time it is leased and the condition that each of these items is in.

If this checklist is not included in the lease agreement or provided by the landlord, the tenant can easily put one together. It is important to thoroughly document any issues with the premises and notify the landlord both verbally and in writing as soon as possible.

Advise the Landlord in Writing of Later Problems Noticed

It is not uncommon for issues with the property to go unnoticed at the time of move-in, so when issues are discovered as the tenancy progresses, it is important to bring this to the landlord’s attention in writing as soon as they are discovered. Many landlords have several properties, so they do not always remember the exact condition each property is in at the time it is rented. By properly documenting the condition of the premises and keeping a record of any contact with the landlord, the tenant can protect their security deposit by documenting any issues that they otherwise might be held responsible for at the end of the lease agreement.