Before you move into a new apartment, one of the necessary costs is the security deposit. A security deposit is a set amount of money that your landlord or rental company collects when you move in that can be used at the end of your lease to pay for any damages. If there are not any, your security deposit may be returned to you.
In this article, we will break down how your security deposit may be calculated, what the legal requirements are, and what steps you can take to get yours back.
Most security deposits are equal to one month’s rent. This will be required for you to pay before you move in. When planning for your move, it’s important to remember that most landlords require a security deposit and the first month’s rent before you can move in. In some cases, you may also have to pay the last month’s rent at this time as well. A security deposit acts as protection for the landlord in case the property incurs damages or if you fail to pay your lease.
A security deposit amount will typically be listed on your rental application and is legally required to be on the final lease.
The total amount of your security deposit depends on the cost of your monthly rent, including amenities, market competition, and state law. Some of these factors may include furnishings, reception desks, parking, elevators, renovations, laundry services, or elevators.
Other factors that may impact your security deposit are your credit history and if you will have a pet living on the property.
In some states, there is a limit to how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. For example, in Maryland, the limit is the equivalent of two months' rent.
Below is a list of states with statutory limits on security deposits. If your state is included in this list, be sure to check that your security deposit is within its limits.
District of Columbia
Ultimately, beyond legal requirements, the landlord will decide how much your security deposit is. If you believe your security deposit is too high, you may be able to negotiate a lower price if you talk to your landlord about your situation or provide documentation of similar properties with lower security deposits.
Many people are able to get their security deposit returned. As long as the property is in the same condition as when you moved in, you should be able to get yours back too. Below are some steps you can take to guarantee you get back your deposit.
Before moving your things in, you should document the property. This can be done with videos, pictures, and written descriptions. By having a record of how it looked before you moved in, you’ll be able to protect yourself from any disputes that may arise. Some landlords or rental companies will provide a walk-through sheet which can be helpful to track and record everything they will be checking.
While you are living on the property, be careful to take care of it. You may want to hang things up with command strips or avoid carelessly using the blinds. By being aware and careful of your use of the space, you may be able to save yourself from having to pay for repairs or taking care of them on your own time.
If something does happen like a nail hole in the wall or a broken blind, be sure to fix it soon or to make a note of it to fix it before you move out.
When you are preparing to move out, you will usually be provided with move-out instructions. They will typically outline any required cleaning and items they will be checking on your move-out inspection. Be sure to follow your move-out instructions carefully to ensure you have the best chance to get your deposit back.
As before you moved in, you’ll want to document the state you left the property in. This will also help you make sure you followed the move-out instructions and give you the best chance to dispute any charges if any are incurred.
Once you’ve returned your keys, it can take up to a month for you to receive your deposit back. If it takes longer than this, make sure to contact your landlord or rental company.
If you’re looking for a new place to live, check out Alcove! Alcove is a co-living solution that can offer you an affordable place to live for less than the cost of a studio or one-bedroom apartment.