If you’re in need of security deposit assistance, you’ve come to the right place. Low Income Relief has tons of advice based on both personal experience and thorough research.
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How is a security deposit different from prepaid rent, pet deposits, and pet fees?
As a tenant, you will pay the security deposit, which is a one time refundable fee to your landlord at the beginning of your rental agreement. It is meant to protect the landlord in case you break the lease, damage or dirty the rental beyond normal wear and tear, or don’t pay rent/utilities. This article tells you exactly what a security deposit can and can’t be used for.
If the landlord needs to use the security deposit, they should send you a detailed itemized list of what they are using your deposit for. You should receive the remainder of your deposit after. If there is no maintenance or cleaning that needs to be done, you should get your entire deposit back.
A security deposit is usually equal to 1 -3 months of rent, but the exact amount you will have to pay will vary depending on your state laws and your landlord. This article tells you how much a landlord can charge you for your security deposit in each state. This other article helps you figure out whether a landlord can charge you more than the security deposit.
Prepaid rent refers to payment you send to your landlord for rent before the month it is paying for. Prepaid rent should not be used to cover damages or cleaning fees.
A pet deposit is similar to a security deposit. It is a one time refundable fee you pay to your landlord so that they can cover any potential damages done to the rental unit by your pet.
A pet fee is a one time non-refundable payment to your landlord for allowing your pet on the property.
Pet rent is a monthly payment like your regular rent. Typically, it costs you an extra 10 – 60 dollars per month.
How can I get my security deposit back?
Here’s a few quick tips that can help you make sure you get as much of your security deposit back as possible.
- Do a walkthrough of your unit when you first move to a new space. Take videos and photos of everything, especially damages that are there before you settle in.
- Keep track of receipts for your paid rent and utilities.
- Do your best to keep the rental in good condition while you live there.
- Try to document all of your agreements and conversations with your landlord in writing or in a recording.
- Know the terms of your lease so you know exactly what your landlord expects.
- Thoroughly clean the unit when you are moving out.
- Give your landlord your forwarding address so they can send your security deposit to the correct place.
- When moving out, document the clean rental with videos and photos in case your landlord tries to falsely charge you for broken appliances or leaving the unit dirty.
These articles on 7 simple steps to get your security deposit back, on what a security deposit is used for, and on how a security deposit works can help you as well. They go into more depth about these tips and share even more advice on how to get most of your deposit back.
You can also watch our video!
What can I do if my landlord tries to keep my security deposit?
Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers and that laws and procedures may vary based upon your situation and state.
Depending on your state’s laws, you should receive your security deposit around 14 – 30 days after you move out. Tennessee is the only state that doesn’t have a deadline. If your landlord uses your security deposit to pay for anything, you should receive a detailed itemized list that explains what they are charging you for and what the costs for that specific charge are.
If you want to dispute the charges on the itemized list, gather evidence. Use your move in and move out videos and photos, present rent receipts, and show written agreements to break your lease depending on what your landlord is trying to charge you for.
If your landlord is refusing to refund you the correct amount from your security deposit, send an email or write a demand letter that announces your intent to contact a lawyer if you do not receive your deposit. Take action via social pressure by posting public reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook. If necessary, you may need to take your landlord to small claims court.
Again, these three articles on 7 simple steps to get your security deposit back, on what a security deposit is used for, and on how a security deposit works explain these procedures more in depth. You may also want to read through our article on how to win a lawsuit against a landlord.
We also have a resource for finding free legal aid services here.
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