Here at Lykens, we believe that the informed tenant is the happy tenant. When you sign a lease, you’ll be asked to provide a security deposit, just in case anything in the apartment needs to be repaired upon move-out. Originally published on Apartments.com, here’s the low-down on security deposits, and how you can ensure that you get yours back every time.
Signing the lease to an apartment is an exciting part of your renter journey, and along this journey you’ll come across some renter lingo, fees, utilities, and deposits that you may not be entirely familiar with. When you sign your lease, you can expect to pay a specified amount of money up front, including a security deposit, an administration fee, and other possible costs such as pet, parking, and storage fees.
But what exactly is a security deposit, you ask? Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure you know exactly how a security deposit works – what it is, what it covers, how much it costs, when it’s due, and when it’s due back to you.
WHAT IS A SECURITY DEPOSIT?
A security deposit is defined as a fixed amount of money paid to a property manager or landlord that ensures the tenant will pay rent and follow the lease. But there’s something special about security deposits – they’re refundable! This means that you have a chance at getting the full or partial amount of your deposit back into your pocket.
A property manager or landlord holds onto this deposit throughout your lease. They cannot cash security deposit checks for the use of anything other than damages made to the apartment after the tenant has moved out. Once your apartment has been inspected and damage costs have been deducted (if any), your property manager or landlord will then return what’s left to you.
How much is a security deposit?
While some states have no limit to the amount a property manager or landlord can charge a tenant, most price-cap a security deposit at the cost of one month’s rent. However, some states allow landlords and property managers to charge up to three months’ rent for a security deposit. You may even find apartment communities that ask for as little as $100 for a security deposit. How much a security deposit costs will also depend upon your background check.
How is a security deposit calculated?
Landlords keep five main factors in mind when calculating the security deposit for their apartments:
- State laws
- The cost of monthly rent
- The type and quality of apartment amenities
- Security deposits of competitive properties
- Rental application of potential tenant (credit score, criminal history, employment history, etc.)
A tenant with a lower credit score may be seen as more high-risk for neglecting to pay rent or moving out unexpectedly than a tenant with good credit. In another scenario, a renter who doesn’t make three times the rent may struggle to pay rent in full each month. Because of this, some apartment communities may seek out a higher security deposit from said tenants to offset the risk of losing money on a property.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SECURITY DEPOSIT AND LAST MONTH’S RENT?
If your lease states that your security deposit is to be considered your last month’s rent, then that money can only be used towards the rent. This payment cannot be used for damages to the apartment, and it will not be refundable to you as the tenant. If your landlord only requires last month’s rent upfront, and doesn’t require a security deposit in addition to this payment, then the property manager or landlord has taken financial responsibility upon themselves to fix any damages made to the unit by the tenant.
WHEN DO I PAY THE SECURITY DEPOSIT?
Generally, landlords and property managers require the security deposit before the tenant can receive their keys. Security deposits are paid at the lease signing with a money order, cashier’s check, or an ACH payment (electronic payment). Before you sign the lease, make sure you are prepared to pay the security deposit and other fees due that day.
WHEN WILL I GET MY SECURITY DEPOSIT BACK?
You will get your security deposit back anywhere from 30 to 60 days after your lease is up and you’ve moved out of the apartment, depending on state laws. You will typically receive your security deposit back by mail in the form of a check, so be sure to notify your property manager or landlord of your new address to ensure a prompt delivery!
REASONS FOR NOT GETTING YOUR FULL SECURITY DEPOSIT BACK
Because a security deposit is often used to pay for repairs to the apartment (done by the tenant), you may not get your entire security deposit back. This is why it’s so important as a renter to be sure to leave your apartment in as good of shape as you found it. When moving out, you should:
- Thoroughly clean your apartment
- Make any and all repairs to the damage you caused
- Be present during your move-out inspection
- Return all of your keys
If, by any chance, your property manager or landlord finds damage to the apartment, they will send you an itemized receipt with the remainder (if any) of your security deposit in the mail. This way, you’ll know exactly what was wrong with the apartment when you left it, how much it cost to be fixed, and how much you have left of your security deposit.
IF YOU HAVEN’T RECEIVED YOUR SECURITY DEPOSIT BACK…
Check your lease agreement to see the time period in which you can expect to receive your security deposit back. If it’s more than the allotted time (by your lease and state laws), try reaching out to your property manager or landlord either by phone, email, or a visit to the leasing office as a friendly reminder. Best of luck, renters!
Now, a bit about Lykens Companies…
With 20 years (and counting) of experience, we believe that Lykens Companies is just getting started on its mission to offer Columbus hundreds of premier apartments, rentals, and renovations. Each day, we are driving toward constantly expanding and improving our business and bettering Columbus, the city we love. For our renters, that means that they are connected to a proven business that is always striving to be the best. Our success isn’t an accident. We are constantly striving to improve our quality, both in the buildings that we renovate, reimagine, and rent out; moreover, we are striving to improve in the way that our business operates. For you, that means the best units and the best service in the best locations.
As we invest our time, money, and energy into the Short North, Victorian Village, Italian Village, and other parts of Columbus’s urban core, it’s nothing short of amazing to step back and see how much we’re able to impact our city, whether that looks like renovating apartments, houses, or even factories like the Wonder Bread Lofts and the forthcoming Budd Dairy project: a full scale reimagining of an old dairy factory into a Cameron Mitchell food hall and state-of-the-art coworking space.
If you’re looking to rent in Columbus, Ohio’s urban core, you’ve come to the right place. We’re confident that it doesn’t get better than us when it comes to finding the absolute best apartments and rentals in Columbus.
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