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Want Your Security Deposit Back? Ask These 6 Questions

Laura Agadoni
Want Your Security Deposit Back? Ask These 6 Questions

When you’ve just landed a new apartment in San Francisco, CA, a security deposit is similar to the pile of work on your desk at the end of a Friday. You could push it aside for now, but you’ll still have to deal with it on Monday (or when your lease is up).

It’s important to be proactive about taking care of your rental to help ensure you’ll get back every penny. Here are six important questions to ask before you sign the lease that can help save you some dough.

  1. Does your landlord expect the unit to be returned spotless?
  2. What is normal wear and tear?
  3. What’s the charge for repainting?
  4. Who is responsible for lawn maintenance?
  5. What about pets?
  6. What if something breaks?

The bottom line

The closer you can get to having your place look just the way it did when you moved in, the more likely you’ll be to get your full security deposit returned (Pro tip: Take photos!). But if the landlord does keep some of your security deposit, they almost always need to provide you with an itemized receipt detailing the reasons. How long landlords have to handle this varies by state, so familiarize yourself with your state’s laws and regulations. If you don’t receive written explanation as to why you’re not getting the full deposit back, contact your landlord and ask for an explanation. If that still doesn’t work, you may have to take your landlord to small claims court. If you’re successful, some states require landlords to pay you a penalty fee.

What’s your tip for getting a security deposit returned? Let us know in the comments!

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