Norton Seal a couple on hardwood floors with moving boxes nearby

At Home

Security Deposit Deductions

Are you looking forward to getting your security deposit back but wondering how much your landlord will deduct? This is a tricky question because each state has slightly different rules and each landlord is different.

We’ve come up with a list to help you figure out what your landlord might deduct from your security deposit. We’ve also got some tips to help you fix the issue, whenever possible, and maybe get more of your deposit back.

Broom swept condition. While this is not a legal definition, you’ll hear this term quite a bit in landlord/tenant disputes. Basically, this phrase means that the place should be in the condition it was when you rented it, minus reasonable wear and tear. To satisfy this condition, your best bet is to do a good cleaning once you’ve moved everything out. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can hire a cleaning service. Chances are you’ll discover a deal on cleaning where your landlord wouldn’t.

Excessive nail holes in the walls. While you love your artwork, your landlord won’t love the holes you created. A few holes are expected, but a gallery wall could cause some repairs that will come out of your security deposit. Skip this charge by getting handy with spackle and repairing the holes yourself.

Broken appliances. If appliances are broken or damaged due to negligence or misuse, you can expect to be charged for them. This is typically not a situation where you can just replace it to skip the charge. But if the appliance isn’t working right and it’s not your fault, let the landlord know immediately and keep track of his or her response.

Broken doors and large holes in walls. This type of damage is going to be considered excessive by the landlord and you can expect to be charged — that is, unless you can fix it yourself or you hire someone to do it. Either way you’re responsible, but doing it yourself may cost less.

Pet damage. If your pet has damaged anything, from chewed up woodwork to carpet stains, your security deposit will be used. Again, you can try to pre-emptively repair the damage.

Painted walls. If you painted the walls you can expect the landlord will charge you for repainting. The best way to avoid this charge is to check with the landlord before you do any painting and see if they’ll approve (in writing) of your paint color. If they like the color, they may let you leave it as is, or they may ask that you repaint when you move out.

Missing property. If anything is missing from the apartment that was there when you moved in, you’ll be charged for it. It’s best just to leave your landlord’s property in place.

Unpaid rent, utility bills, late fees etc. If you break the lease and leave your landlord high and dry, you can expect that they’ll use your security deposit to recover their losses. After all, this is what a security deposit is for. If the landlord immediately rents out the place and isn’t actually out any rent, then you can try to get that back — they’re not allowed to “double dip” the rent.

Another great way to protect yourself when you’re renting is to get renters insurance. While it doesn’t protect your security deposit, it does protect your personal property if there’s a covered loss. Connect with your American Family Insurance agent to learn more about renters insurance.

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Related Topics: At Home , Renters