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Deposit Busters

Apartment security deposits use and abuse leads the list of litigation between rental property owners and apartment residents. So how can one avoid dispute over apartment deposits and slide out of an apartment safely? First, understand apartment deposit laws and what monies can be deducted from deposits. Basics include unpaid rent, cleaning and returning the premises to the condition as when first rented.

Top busters for apartment security deposits include:

Not giving notice
Prior to taking off, Texas apartment deposit laws require an apartment resident to give written notice to the apartment owner. Notice requirements vary from 30 to 60 days, with written notice usually required to prevent misunderstandings about rent owed or date of departure. Some dwellers of Houston-area apartments assume that if their apartment lease is up, they can simply leave. Not so fast.unless you want to leave some money behind. Unpaid rent is a common deduction for apartment deposits when forgetting to give notice.30 days' worth in most cases.and may be kept by the apartment owner if no written notice was provided before exiting. It doesn't cost a thing to give written notice.and saves misunderstandings later.

Extra rent
Slipping out early or breaking an apartment lease altogether can cause the deposit to be forfeited for the amount equal to the rent due—and then some. Until a suitable replacement tenant is found, you may be on the financial hook. Fish around for suggestions from the apartment manager or rental property owner for catching up with a replacement tenant. Not getting along with your roommate? You'll need to pitch in your share of the rent until another person replaces your spot.

Often a tidy sum is kept by rental property owners for cleaning. "But it wasn't clean when I moved in," some tenants lament at move-out. If it isn't clean, be sure to complain in writing when you move-in to your new Houston apartment. At move-out, it's too late. Units have to be returned at the same level of clean as when first rented, or the deposit may be used to mop up the mess.

What type of cleaning? Here it gets tricky. Some rental property owners consider "clean" just removing your worldly possessions, while others expect the carpet shampooed and the grout scrubbed using a toothbrush and bleach. To help define the level at move-in, before and after photos are ideal. If not, ask for a cleaning checklist from the rental property owner if you wish to tackle the task yourself at move-out.

Restoring to original condition
Hotly contested by both rental property owner and tenant, "condition as when first rented" is a term often used in apartment leases, but often not documented. Allowable as a deposit deduction, protect yourself with lots of photographs or video of your apartment with move-in condition. Document now or defend later!

Think of damage as injury to the premises. Often a spontaneous event, damage can range from a broken window to a torn rug. The longer you leased an apartment, the more wear and tear is expected, especially for carpets and paint.

renters right on security deposit Excessive wear, tear and changes
If you rented a car and dented the fender, that would be damage. But what if you rented a car for a year? Common sense would expect the tires to be worn, but not be ruined by a spike strip. Visualize the same for a rental property. How does one avoid being charged? Once again, an inventory walk-through with photographic backup should set the pace.

Missing items
For example, if the apartment was rented with towel racks, return it with the same towel racks. Any fixture, which means anything attached, cannot be removed unless permission was granted (in writing) by the rental property owner.

An itemized checklist, great to start and end a tenancy with, is sometimes available from the rental property owner. Probably the best protection against unfair deductions, the "prior-to-move-out walk-through" allows both rental property owners and tenants to get a grip on potential security deposit deductions—before anyone flies off the handle.

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