How to Avoid Losing Your Security Deposit When Moving Out

Monday June 25, 2018

Paying a security deposit when moving is a common way for property owners to protect their properties. If tenants uphold all rules and regulations, the deposit is returned to them when they move out. However, there’s often more to keeping a security deposit than there seems.

Fill Out a Move-in Checklist

Keys being handed over paperwork

The main reason a security deposit is lost is that a landlord notices damage, blemishes, or destruction that took place during the tenant’s stay that will need to be addressed. But tenants often stay for years or even decades at a time, meaning it can be hard to remember what damage was there while moving in. To cut out the guesswork, fill out a move-in or rental inspection checklist with the landlord, noting anything that appears damaged or nonfunctional, even if it’s small. That way the landlord can’t use it as a reason to deny the return of a security deposit.

Take Pictures During Move-In and Move-Out

In addition to a checklist, it makes sense to take pictures of any damage during move-in to prove that any conditions were pre-existing. But it’s also a good idea to take pictures while moving out. By doing so, tenants can prevent any subsequent damage (caused by the landlord or otherwise) from being attributed to them. Tenants should be particularly careful while moving out to avoid any more damage but using a specialized moving crew when necessary can prevent damage.

Be Familiar with Lease and Law

The best way to protect any legal or financial trouble is to be as familiar as possible with the real estate law and lease expectations before moving in. Real estate law varies from city to city; for example, in New Orleans, tenants are not responsible for damage due to hurricanes and flooding, and they even have the right to terminate a lease due to flood or hurricane damage. Landlords in Louisiana must also return security deposits within a month of moving out unless the property is damaged beyond “normal wear and tear.” It is also vital to be familiar with the specific lease to ensure it’s not being broken. When navigating legalities, it’s beneficial to get everything in writing—for example, ask a landlord for a receipt when giving a move-out notice—to prevent anything being used as a reason to for them to keep the deposit.

At Lee Moving & Storage, Inc., we know that moving doesn’t have to be expensive, but there’s no reason to pay a security deposit on top of moving costs. For more information, contact us today!