I want to move out - what can I do to make sure I get my security deposit back?
It is the goal of ONEprop and your landlord that you receive 100% of your deposit back. We post information on this website in order to better educate you so this is possible. If you receive 100% of the deposit back that means you returned the home back to your landlord in the condition as expected according to your lease. This also means the home is available for the next tenant with as little work as possible. The three most important things to start out with:
1) Turn in proper notice, in writing (not email), with a signature
2) Make sure all rent is paid in full
3) Provide a forwarding address, in writing (not email), with a signature
Once you turn in proper notice you will receive instructions on what you can do to maximize the opportunity to receive 100% of your deposit back after you leave.
What is *Proper Notice*?
Proper notice means you provide a written letter (not email) with a signature stating:
1) The date you intend to surrender the property. Surrender means turning in all keys and other access devices (garage door remotes)
2) The names of the tenants on your lease
3) The address of the property
If there is no date of when you will surrender the property we do not have proper notice.
What if I want to leave before my lease is up?
Most leases require you to pay for the full term of the lease even if you leave early. Please read your lease for the exceptions. The specific requirements of the exceptions may change as the laws change, but the exceptions are generally:
1) You receive miltary change of station orders, in which case there are specific obligations. You must present the change orders to your landlord or landlord's representative and you must provide notice before the next rent is due. If you provide the proper documentation you can leave thirty days after the start of the next rental period and you will have 100% of your security deposit available for refund with no penalty for leaving early.
2) You have a domestic violence situation. You must provide proper documentation in the form of a restraining order issued by a judge.
3) Your landlord agrees to change the end date of your lease, usually in exchange for a specific amount of money. This may be written into your lease, but if not you can always "make an offer".
If you do not qualify under these exceptions then expect to pay the full term of your lease and all other obligations including utilities, lawn care, re-letting fees, other maintenance expenses or any other obligations in your lease.
All outstanding balances are reported to collections and you may be liable for all expenses related to collecting any past due debts.
Why would someone not get all of their deposit returned?
The lease requires you to do more then just pay your rent, so if the landlord has to pay to have someone do something you were required to do, then you must reimburse the landlord. The landlord cannot charge you for expenses related to "normal wear and tear". Normal wear and tear is measured against 1) how long should a thing normally last and 2) what was the intended use. Example:, a privacy fence is intended to provide privacy, it is not intended to be a chew toy for a dog. Even if it is "normal" for your dog to chew a fence, you would be charged to repair any damage caused by the dog because the fence was used for something other than it's intended use. Also, as a tenant you are responsible for anything caused by negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse. This responsibility is yours even if you did not cause the damage. Please remember there is a difference between fault and responsibility. If you rent a car and some stranger dings the door in a parking lot, the damage was not your fault but you are responsible for the cost to repair even if you were not around when the stranger dinged the door.
The most common deductions are for:
1) Lawn care. Please read your lease. You are responsible for more then cutting the lawn and edging. You must treat with fertilizer, you must treat with weed killer, you must maintain flower beds in a weed free manner and maintain an adequete level of mulch. If the yard is not properly maintained then any expense the landlord incurs to fix this negligence may be charged back to the tenant. The lawn should look better then when you moved in, if you do what is required in the lease a better looking, more mature lawn is the result.
2) Cleaning. Your lease requires you to keep the house clean and to leave it clean. If it is not left clean then the landlord will hire someone to finish the cleaning and the expense will be assessed back to your account. Unless you had extraordinary circumstances the carpets were cleaned prior to your move in. The carpet was either done by the previous tenants or done by the landlord and the expense charged back to the previous tenant. ONEprop can refer you to cleaning firms for your house and carpets which have had great success in removing even those most stubborn stains.
3) Touch up paint. This can be the most painful. If a tenant touches up and uses the wrong type or color of paint the cost to repair can be more then if just left alone. If you are not 100% confident in your ability to provide a proper touch up job, then you should hire the work done by a professional who will guarantee their work or let the landlord hire their own painter and let the expense be paid from your account. Anything more than a couple of small nail holes per wall is not considered normal use or normal wear and tear. Children drawing on walls may be normal in your family but it is not considered normal use of a wall. Grease on walls, handprints on walls or painting odd colors on walls are not considered normal use and may require special (expensive) treatment to repair. Damage to the walls from moving your furnishings in or out of the house is not considered normal wear and tear. On the other side of this, a landlord has an expectation of periodic painting, so if you live at a home for five years, and paint but no repair is required when you leave the landlord must depreciate the expense and can only assess their tenant a smaller amount of the expense they incur.
4) Missing garage door remotes, mismatching lightbulbs or missing smoke detector batteries. These costs can be larger then you might think. If a garage door remote is missing then the landlord has to pay someone to deliver and program a new remote. A $30.00 remote ends up costing $90.00 by the time you reimburse the landlord for the service call by a garage door company.
Remember your obligations are to reimburse the landlord for the damages they suffer and damages are generally any bills the landlord pays to make things right.
- Doesn't the landlord have an incentive to *keep* my deposit?
The landlord has no incentive to "keep" your deposit. First of all it is generally illegal for a landlord to keep your deposit if you leave with rent paid in full, you have provided proper notice at the end of your lease and you have provided a forwarding address. The landlord can only use your deposit to repay for damages he suffers. So if you are assesed a fee to replace a garage door remote the landlord doesn't get to keep anything, he is only being reimbursed from the money he paid the service company for the replacement. The person who benefits from this situation is the repair company the landlord has to hire.
Doesn't ONEprop have an incentive to *keep* my deposit?
ONEprop does not get to keep your deposit. Your lease is between you and your landlord and any deductions are to reimburse your landlord. ONEprop holds the deposit in a trust account so it is available to be repaid to you or to reimburse the landlord for unfulfilled lease obligations after you leave the property .
Also, ONEprop has a legal obligation to be fair to you, but more importantly we cannot legally represent someone who is trying to cheat you out of a deposit refund you should receive. If a landlord tries to cheat you then you can call ONEprop as a witness on your behalf.
- How are damages determined?
A physical survey is completed after you leave the property and 75-125 photograph's are taken to complete the records. The survey results are compared with the condition of the property when you moved in as noted in the move-in condition form you completed when you took possession of the house. Any landlord make ready expenses are reviewed to determine if they qualify for reimbursement.
- How do I schedule the move out survey?
Tenants are not permitted to be present at the move out survey. Unfortunately we have this policy due to scheduling constraints, but more importantly in order to protect our employees. You may be nice and calm while someone goes through the home and takes photograph's but not everyone is even tempered. In order to be fair to all tenants we must follow the same procedures for all. If you are concerned about having proper documentation then you need to make your own records of the property condition at move out before you surrender the keys. The move out survey is completed within two business days of the time you surrender the property.
When do I get my deposit returned?
Your landlord will provide you with an accounting of the deposit and any monies owed thirty days after you surrender the property. The commitment is to send this information in the mail no later then 30 days after you leave, so you may not actually receive it for a few more days after this. If you have assessments which exceed your deposit you will receive a statement of the amount you owe, if this happens please pay promptly in order to avoid collections procedures and expenses.
If ONEprop no longer manages the property you will receive a letter stating who has the deposit, who is responsible for sending you your accounting and monies owed, and how to contact them.
What if there is an error on the accounting and I was charged for something I should not have been charged for?
Unfortunately errors can occur. In spite of every effort to be correct 100% of the time we have had errors. If you find an error in your deposit accounting please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive a confirmation email back within two days telling you we have received your issue and that we will research and resolve ASAP. It normally takes 10-15 work days to complete the review and we may need to ask you additional questions while we do our research. When you send in your issue please include all relevant information including good phone numbers to contact you!
Please list the item where you feel there was an error, then list the reason why you should not have been assessed an expense. Please remember that mistakes can happen. An example is when a cleaning for a house number 3110 was incorrectly entered into our system as 3001. You may have lived in 3001 and left it immaculate, only to find a cleaning bill charged against your account. If you simply ask us to review our photo's and notes then we will be able to find the error and send you your additional reimbursement ASAP. Or if you paid a professional cleaner to clean the house at your departure send a copy of the receipt.
Why would ONEprop try so hard to get me my deposit back?
There are many reasons, including the fact that we are nice guys and it makes our lives easier. The most compelling reason is we have a legal responsibility to watch out for the landlord's pocketbook. Even if a landlord is totally reimbursed for any expenses from a deposit, it harms the owner as it is more difficult to locate a new tenant when a house does not look it's best. This can discourage landlords from offering houses for rent and it makes all rentals more costly for all. One bad tenant (or landlord) can ruin it for a lot of people so we do our best to educate everyone in an effort to make a change in tenancy as smooth as possible.
Some of our happier moments in the day are when we get to call an owner and explain that their tenant fulfilled their lease, moved out and left the place ready for the next person with no additional work! This also means I get to call the tenant and say thank you for taking such good care of the home and look for a big check in the mail! And - this scenario also means much less work for us at ONEprop so we can focus on solving real problems like getting repairs done faster or better.
- Can you please provide me more detailed instructions on how to get as much of my deposit back as possible?
You should 1) read your lease for a complete list of everything you may be responsible for and 2) download the adobe document at this link tenant_moveout_instructions since it includes additional information on cleaning, lawn care and touch up paint.