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Living Off Campus? Tips to Get Your Security Deposit Back

Many college students will be moving into off campus apartments after the winter break. If you’re one of them, you should know that you will probably have to put down a security deposit on your rental. A security deposit amount can range from the equivalent of one month’s rent to six months’ worth of rent payments. Once you move out, your landlord may keep none, some, or even all of your deposit. Here are some tips to help you get as much of your money back as you can.

Look Over Your Lease Agreement

As many as 65% of renters are under the age of 35, so many landlords are changing the way they handle security deposits. Off campus housing for students often comes with a nonrefundable move-in fee, rather than a security deposit that’s returned. If you have a security deposit, some landlords will take a percentage of it for cleaning — no matter what the apartment condition is like after you move out. Read the lease agreement carefully to know what your landlord does and ask if you aren’t sure before signing anything.

Take Pictures

The day you move in to off campus housing for students, you should take pictures of each room before you put your stuff in it. Take close up pictures of any damage that’s already there and make sure your photos have timestamps on them that show the date they were taken. You don’t want to lose money from your deposit for damages that you didn’t cause and pictures are the best evidence.

Fill Out a Checklist

Most landlords will give you a checklist to fill out when you move into a new apartment. Some will walk through and fill it out with you. This is your chance to get any previous damage in writing. Some landlords will even charge you for a burned out bulb when you move out, so write down every detail, even if it seems like nothing. If your landlord doesn’t provide a checklist, make one yourself and email (as well as hand-deliver) a copy to them.

Take Care of Your Apartment

You may be a busy college student — perhaps working, attending classes, and trying to have a social life. But you need to carve out a little time to keep your place clean and call the landlord right away if anything breaks. Off campus housing for students is frequently stained or damaged due to inattention on the student’s part. Cleaning can prevent stains on carpets, counters, or floors. Getting things fixed right away will also ensure that the cost won’t come out of your deposit because of neglect.

Show Up to the Final Walk Through

Be sure to show up for the final walk through with the landlord when you’re about to move out. In off campus housing for students, a landlord might be more apt to take money out of your security deposit because they figure you don’t care enough to show up, they’ll never see you again anyway, or they figure you can’t prove that you didn’t damage something if you aren’t there to defend yourself. Even if you have taken photos and filled out a checklist, if you aren’t there to discuss any damage or wear and tear, you will be less likely to receive your full deposit back.

Speak Up

Believe it or not, many people won’t say anything if they lose part or even all of their security deposit, especially in off campus housing for students. However, a tenant who has paid rent and taken care of an apartment appropriately has rights. You can challenge your landlord if you believe that you should receive more money back after you move out. Be sure to voice your concerns during the walk through or call the landlord if you don’t find out until later that you didn’t receive you full security deposit back.

If you’re a student moving into off campus housing, follow these simple tips to get your security deposit back at the end of the school year. It could save you a lot of money.

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