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Apartment Security deposit refund - will you get it back?

The information below should help you figure out if you'll get your deposit back when you move out.


Most apartment complexes require tenants to put down a security deposit before they move in. From a business standpoint, this makes perfect sense - the deposit helps to remind tenants that they must take care of the apartment, and it can defray part of the damage done to the unit once the tenant moves out. If you are a tenant, though, your primary concern is probably getting your deposit back after you leave. Whether or not you get the deposit back does depend upon a few factors. The information below should help you figure out if you'll get your deposit back when you move out.

The first thing to remember about security deposits is that they are meant to defray the cost of repairs when a tenant moves out. These costs do not, however, typically consist of wear and tear. Your landlord will likely charge you for things like holes in the wall or stains on the carpet, but the landlord can't charge you for wear and tear to the appliances. The security deposit isn't a magical fund from which the landlord can dip any time he or she likes, but rather something that is used to help when tenants don't take care of an apartment.

You may, however, lose out on part of the deposit if you don't keep to the letter of your move-out agreement. Many landlords do charge tenants for cleaning services when the tenants do not clean properly before they leave. In most cases, it's much cheaper to hire a professional cleaning service than to pay these fees. Read your lease carefully, as you might have to hire a carpet cleaning service or even a painter before you move out. If you can't restore the apartment to reasonably "like-new" condition, you should expect to lose your deposit.

In most cases, though, you should be able to get your security deposit back with relatively little fuss. If your landlord doesn't send you an itemized list of exactly where your funds are going, you should expect to get back the full amount of money you deposited. Most states have a maximum amount of time that the landlord can hold onto the deposit, usually ranging between thirty and sixty days. Always make sure to leave a valid forwarding address, so you can get your security back from your landlord as soon as you can.

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