Author: Kati Ettinger
Contrary to popular belief, management companies never want to be in the position where we have to make a claim against a security deposit. We want to find the property in move-in ready condition when we take over possession after your lease ends, because that means less work for us, less hassle for you, and a faster turnaround time for the owner. We would be thrilled if we never had to make a claim against a deposit, but unfortunately this is rarely the case – oftentimes that’s due to a misunderstanding regarding our expectations. If you want to get the most back from your security deposit, use the guidelines below before, during, and after your lease agreement.
- We will always account for normal wear and tear, but you need to do your best to hand the property back to us in the same condition in which we handed it over to you. This is someone else’s home that you’re living in – you may be leasing the home, but it does not belong to you. Treat the home accordingly and be respectful of someone else’s property.
- Keep power on for the duration of your lease agreement, or until you turn in your keys. Your lease requires that power service is active while you are in possession of the property. Turning the power off early, especially when you don’t let us know you’ve vacated, often results in damage to the property due to the hot and humid climate we experience in Florida. The refrigerator can begin to grow mold or maggots if food is left in it, and the A/C system can begin to break down. It’s very important to avoid any issues by keeping power on in your name until you turn in your keys.
- When you vacate, empty the property entirely, including all trash, items in the refrigerator, and furniture that you don’t want. If you leave it there, we have to pay someone to haul everything out to the curb, take out the trash, clean out the refrigerator, etc. If you turn the power off early (which is prohibited in your lease – see above point) and leave items in the fridge, the climate in Florida can swiftly cause maggots and other bugs to infest the refrigerator. This will result in the entire refrigerator needing to be replaced, as they will get into the inner workings of the appliance and cannot just be cleaned out.
- Make sure you turn in all of the keys, passes, remotes, etc. that were handed to you when you moved in to avoid replacement costs.
- Many leases, ours included, have mandatory minimum fees that are deducted from the deposit after you move out for professional cleaning, carpet cleaning, and replacing missing keys. While you can contract with vendors directly to handle the various cleaning services, our vendors give us great prices and it’s often easier (and cheaper!) to take the deduction from your deposit and allow us to contract with our vendors to complete these services. If you do decide to hire companies to complete these services for you, make sure you turn in copies of your receipts with your keys to avoid being charged out of the deposit.
- Don’t paint! One of the biggest costs during a unit turn is painting over bright, bold, or dark colors that were painted by the resident. Even colors that appear to be neutral can require more than one coat to cover it. If you paint any of the walls, we have to return them to their original color. While in theory you could paint it back before you leave, in practice this is difficult to accomplish. The paint must match (paint fades over time) and be professionally done – this means no drips, splatters on the baseboards or ceilings, rough cut-ins, or patchy spots. If you take the time and effort to try to return the paint back to its original condition, but it doesn’t look professionally done, we still need to repaint it and the cost would come out of your security deposit. It’s easier to leave the paint as it is and find other ways to decorate – check out our blog post on décor that won’t put your deposit at risk here: https://www.innovativerealtyfl.com/property-management-blog/decor-that-wont-risk-your-security-deposit
- The same theory around paint also applies to mounting things on the wall. Everyone wants to hang up photos, posters, or even shelves – we understand that and patching small nail holes is considered normal wear and tear. However, if you choose to mount your TV or other large items on the walls and there are large drill holes that need to be patched, this is something that would affect your deposit refund. Many residents try to patch these holes themselves, which often results in more work for our maintenance company, as they have to sand it down and paint it to match.
- Most importantly, familiarize yourself with your lease agreement. So many residents sign their lease without reading it first. Read the terms, ask questions, and you’ll rarely be surprised.
If you have any questions about how to maximize on the return of your security deposit, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office!