Renting a home is always a temporary living situation. There comes a point where you, the tenant, will decide to move out for whatever the reason may be. According to the Landlord – Tenant Act, the tenant must give the landlord a 20 day written notice before vacating. After moving out, everyone is entitled to get their security deposit back but that may not be the case every time. In certain situations, you may receive only a partial amount of your security deposit for any number of reasons, any of which must be reasonable. Some common deductions of the security deposit are damages, excessive cleaning costs, unpaid or late rent fees, or utility bills. Breaking the lease could also lead to a settlement fee between the two parties.
Landlords are legally allowed to charge you for any damages to the unit caused by the tenant or their guests. If the tenant moves out with noticeable damages to the unit, landlords can rightfully use the security deposit towards repairs. If a landlord makes a claim without proper documentation, tenants should be ready with a defense against the unnecessary charges. Therefore, it is important to outline what the landlord can charge for in the lease or have a wear/tear checklist to avoid any charges. A common unnecessary charge would be wear and tear of the furniture and/or utilities. Wear and tear is defined as “…deterioration that results from the intended use of a dwelling … but term does not include deterioration that results from negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse of the premises, equipment or personal property by the tenant, by a member of the tenant’s household or by a guest of the tenant.”
It’s important for tenants to document the unit during both the move-in and the move-out, photos are the best bet. During tenancy, the tenant is responsible for reporting all damages that occur in the unit, unreported damages can lead to the loss or deduction of a security deposit. For example, not letting the landlord know about a small leak could result in unit damages over time and the tenant would most likely be liable for the damages. If possible, request a final walk through with the landlord. As mentioned, documentation is key in every scenario. If a landlord wrongfully withholds your security deposit, the tenant is able to claim 2-3 times the deposit money. Landlords are required to document all repairs with detailed receipts. To avoid any deductions to your security deposit, its best to maintain open communication with your landlord and leave a clean, empty apartment when you move out.