When classes are done and summer has arrived, many students are in a rush to vacate their student housing. However, nobody wants to get a notice that their landlord has claimed the entirety of their security deposit for frivolous or preventable charges, or worse yet, learn that their landlord is pursuing them for excess charges either through collection activities or a lawsuit. Because the statute of limitations on these claims can be as long as five years, a landlord can potentially file suit many years after you’ve left your rental. Here are some things you can do that will help protect yourself as you prepare to leave student housing either for the summer or at the end of your studies.
- Take Photographs On Your Move-out Day: Detailed photographs are your best defense against a landlord’s frivolous claim for damages against your security deposit. Too often the landlord has photographs that it claims represent damage, but tenant has nothing to refute those claims except his or her word. Many apartment complexes have identical apartments, so it’s very easy for a dishonest landlord to take pictures of damage in another apartment and claim it came from your apartment.
- Replace the drip pans, filters, and light bulbs: Often landlords will claim replacement of such items as damage and then charge their former tenants several times the actual cost. Be sure to keep receipts for these items and point out their replacement to the landlord during the walk through.
- Clean and Remove all Trash: Leave the apartment as clean as possible. Landlords often charge excessively high fees for cleaning and as much as $75 per bag for garbage removal. Avoid these charges by thoroughly cleaning and removing all garbage yourself.
- Have damage repaired: If you’ve caused any damage to the apartment, work with the landlord to have it repaired prior to your vacating the apartment. Often hiring someone yourself is much less expensive than what a landlord will charge. Although it’s unlawful, many landlords will charge a tenant much more than their actual costs in making repairs.
- Keep your documents: Be sure to keep copies of all your documents such as lease agreements, correspondence between you and the landlord, repair requests, termination notices, and walkthrough reports. All documents, photographs, and receipts should, at a minimum be kept for five years.