The return of a security deposit can be a point of dispute between landlords and tenants. Knowing your rights and obligations as a renter can give you an advantage if you get into a tug-of-war over a deposit.
Each state has different laws concerning security deposits. Read about tenant’s laws for every state, including those for Oregon and Washington.
The more you know about how to get your security deposit back, the greater your chances of success. Start preparing a few weeks in advance, rather than leaving things to the last minute or to chance. Here’s what you need to know to get your deposit back.
Review the Rental Agreement
Some agreements specify professional cleaning, repainting and minor repairs. Read your contract and fulfill your part of the agreement.
Give Enough Notice
Many states require 30 days notice to end a month-to-month tenancy. If you don’t give your landlord enough warning, extra rent may be deducted from your deposit. Send a notice by certified mail and request a receipt. Keep a copy of the letter.
Find a Tenant
If you have a lease and are moving out before it ends, find another tenant for the unit. Breaking the terms of a lease could mean you’ll end up paying rent until the end of the original agreement.
Landlords expect tenants to leave the unit in the same state as when they moved in. Check your rental agreement and speak with your landlord to confirm expectations. For instance, you may or may not be expected to have carpets professionally cleaned.
Renters aren’t responsible for repairing normal wear and tear, but they are expected to fix damage they caused. Fix holes in the wall, broken blinds or anything else damaged during your tenancy.
Be Present for Inspection
Inspect the unit with your landlord. Meeting face-to-face helps minimize misunderstandings. Your landlord can let you know if there are problems or if you need to do more cleaning.
Remove All Belongings
Don’t leave anything behind: food, belongings and furniture. Even something as innocent as shelf lining in a kitchen cupboard could cost you because your landlord will see it as trash. If you have items you wish to donate, check out our posts about donating food or furniture around Portland.
Leave a Forwarding Address
Make sure your landlord knows where to mail your check. A landlord that can’t find you is entitled in some states to keep a deposit.
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