By Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management
In order to make sure you get your security deposit back when you move out, you have to take steps before you move in.
In today’s rental market, most security deposits are equal to the amount of the first month’s rent and depending on where you live, that can amount to a nice chunk of change. To make sure that the majority — if not all — of that security deposit is returned to you upon move out is strongly dependent upon the request and use of a “Move-In/Move-Out” checklist. Many landlords fail to provide such a checklist and that’s when the responsibility falls in the hands of the renter to guard against unnecessary security deposit deductions.
To accomplish this, each tenant should be provided, or should provide themselves a written “Move-In/Move-Out” checklist. The “Move-In/Move-Out” checklist allows both parties to identify in writing the initial “Move-In” condition and the final “Move-out” condition of the apartment or property. These checklists will eliminate any misunderstandings regarding which party will pay for non-normal wear and tear repairs throughout the tenancy and upon move out.
Prior to receiving the keys from the landlord, the tenant should completely inspect the property and document the existing condition on the “Move-In” side of the checklist. It is necessary to document the condition of the appliances, windows, screens, blinds, doors, walls, lighting, flooring, a/c, heating, toilets, faucets, ceiling fans, and any other necessary interior and exterior areas. During the initial walk-through with the landlord, it is important to review the findings and have them sign and date the document. Even if you initiated this process, be sure that you provide your landlord with a copy of the agreement.
Document Everything With Photos
The use of a digital camera is also recommended upon both “Move-in” and “Move-out” to capture images or video of the property if the condition is challenged at a later time. The “Move-In” checklist also helps to avoid the common “It worked or was that way when you moved in” argument. Furthermore, if an area or appliance shows signs of damage or heavy wear and it is necessary to request a repair, the repair can be justified by referencing the initial condition.