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Getting Your Security Deposit Back for Rental Properties

Renting property in Tennessee means having to pay a security deposit, which typically equals up to one month’s rent. The money protects the landlord because it can compensate him if you damage the rental beyond normal wear and tear. He must return it to you within 6 weeks after you move out. Here are some tips to ensure that you get most, if not all, of your money back.

  • Take pictures. Use your phone or digital camera to take lots of photos of the rental before you move in and after you move out. Get detailed shots of problems that you notice, such as a crack in the wall, when you do the initial walk-through. Such evidence prevents you from being blamed for a pre-existing issue. Make sure that any such issues are clearly spelled out in the rental contract to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Clarify what normal wear and tear means. Normal wear and tear is what happens to a place in the course of your living there and can differ depending on how many people are in the rental and how long they stay. The standards for a family of four renting for five years are not the same as those for a single person staying for six months. Typical wear includes some small scuffs on the paint, dirty window screens, and small nail holes on the wall. Damage covers unapproved paint or wallpaper, burned or stained carpeting, big holes or gouges on the wall, and leaving the unit and/or appliances in dirty condition.
  • Confirm with the landlord at least a month in advance on what you need to do to get the deposit back. He may require at least a month’s notice if you intend to move out or that you leave the place spotless. Others may not care too much about the scuffs and dust if it’s their standard policy to have the place professionally cleaned and painted before a new tenant. Then follow whatever he says you should do. If you are worried about the amount of deposit you will be receiving back, request that the landlord does a walk through with you at the time of move out. They should be able to tell you at that time any damages you may be charged for.