How to Get Your Deposit Back from an Off-Campus Apartment
Moving out of your off-campus apartment and heading back home after the semester can be a bittersweet moment, but there’s one thing that should bring you joy—getting your deposit back! If you’ve been a responsible tenant, it shouldn’t be too hard to get your deposit back in full.
Here are 12 things every college student should know about getting their deposit back from an off-campus apartment.
1. Read Your Lease Agreement Carefully Before Signing
Your lease agreement is probably the most important document when it comes to getting your deposit back. It will outline all of the requirements for getting your security deposit returned in full, so make sure you read it carefully before signing.
Lease agreements can be difficult and confusing for college students, who may have never seen a lease before. If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot afford an attorney but need help understanding your lease, one reliable option is to take advantage of the resources offered by your university or college.
Most colleges offer an on-campus legal services center that provides free or low-cost legal help specifically tailored to student needs. Additionally, many online platforms give free advice about how to manage common leasing issues such as how to break a lease and how to deal with landlord issues.
Doing research ahead of time and looking into these resources can save a lot of headaches in the long run.
2. Take Photos or Video When You Move In
Before you move into your new place, take photos or videos of each room in the apartment. This will help prove that you left the place in its original condition when you moved out.
Priority one for a college student moving into an off-campus apartment should be to ensure they document everything. Taking photos and videos of each room before settling in is key, and it’s wise to name the files so that all information is accessible in the future — on your laptop, external hard drive, or cloud-based storage platform.
By doing this you’ll be able to look back and remember details that may seem minor now such as exactly where the stains are that need cleaning up or if there were nails missing from the wall.
This documentation can also help create a paper trail to prove your case if the landlord ever wrongfully accuses you of damage inside the apartment while living there.
3. Clean Thoroughly Before You Leave
When moving out, clean everything from top to bottom—walls, floors, carpets, and furniture (if applicable). Vacuum any carpets and mop hardwood floors or tile surfaces. Make sure that all surfaces are dust free and free from any stains. Be sure to check behind appliances like ovens and refrigerators as well!
Deep cleaning your off-campus apartment should take about three to four hours, and require the right cleaning supplies and equipment. College students on a budget may be looking for ways to get the job done without expending too much money.
Borrowing or swapping with peers is one crafty way to get access to necessary supplies. If a student has some friends who already moved out of their apartments, they should ask if they would be willing to lend or trade supplies, or even come over and help clean.
Another option is visiting the thrift store. High-quality cleaning appliances can often be found at second-hand stores for a fraction of the price.
Finally, if possible, try bartering with local businesses that offer janitorial services – this could result in discounted rates since college students may not have a lot of money to spare for deep cleaning supplies and equipment.
4. Replace Old Light Bulbs
Replace any light bulbs that have burned out with new ones before moving out so that the apartment looks as good as new when viewed by potential tenants.
5. Don’t Forget About Curb Appeal
Make sure to trim trees and shrubs around the outside of the apartment building and mow the lawn if necessary before leaving so that it looks nice for future tenants or guests visiting your old place during inspection time.
This may not necessarily be a requirement, depending on the verbiage of your lease agreement. However, it creates some goodwill between you and the landlord and improves the odds of getting your deposit back, no questions asked, and getting a reference for any future rental applications that you may fill out.
6. Patch Any Holes in Walls or Floors
If there are any holes in walls or floors from nails used for hanging pictures or other decorations, be sure to patch them up with spackle before leaving for good!
7. Wash Windows Inside and Out
Give windows a thorough wash inside and out before departing; this includes window frames as well as glass panes themselves.
8. Check for Bugs or Pests
Be sure to inspect for bugs or pests such as roaches, ants, mice, etc., both indoors and outdoors (especially around doors/windows). If any are found, contact a pest control company immediately that can treat the area so future residents won’t have an issue later on down the road!
This is highly recommended not only to protect your belongings as you move out but also will reduce the potential for a dispute as you move out. Landlords don’t typically want to spend the hundreds or even thousands of dollars that it might take to fumigate an infestation.
9. Clean Out Closets and Cabinets
Make sure all closets and cabinets are emptied of personal items before leaving; this includes bookshelves and other storage spaces as well. While it might not disqualify you from getting your deposit back if you leave anything behind, it’s certainly no fun to realize that you’ve lost a book or piece of personal property that you might end up needing down the line.
10. Sweep Porches and Patios
Sweep porches/patios of debris such as dirt/leaves/twigs/etc., then hose down if necessary – don’t forget about doors too!
11 . Return Keys and Remotes
Return all keys (including mailbox keys plus garage door openers/remotes if applicable). Also, make sure to give copies of these items to the landlord upon departure – this is especially important if they were not provided at the move-in date originally!
12 . Request Your Security Deposit Refund
As soon as possible after vacating your off-campus apartment make sure to request your security deposit refund directly from the landlord – usually via a certified letter sent through the post office which requires a signature upon receipt!
This way there’s no confusion later regarding who has what rights over money being held until the final inspection has taken place. At the very least, it will require a response that you can then acknowledge or dispute should it come to that.
Get Your Deposit Back With These Helpful Tips
Moving out of an off-campus apartment can be stressful but knowing how to get your security deposit back will help alleviate some of those worries! By following these 12 tips every college student should know about getting their deposits returned in full then hopefully all goes smoothly come time for inspection day.
Just remember to always take detailed notes and photos throughout the tenancy period just in case you need them later on down the line. Good luck everyone, and happy renting!
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