Some apartments require a security deposit. So what do you need to do to ensure you see your security deposit again? Adam Ponte, an attorney with Kenney & Sams, PC, says the trick is to pay close attention to your lease.
“Reading the fine print carefully will help a tenant avoid any surprises,” say Ponte.
In Massachusetts, a landlord must give the tenant a “statement of condition” within 10 days of receipt of the security deposit. The statement of condition describes the condition of the apartment and any damage that exists at that time. A tenant has 15 days to add to the statement of condition or make changes to it. A tenant should be sure to fill out the statement of condition, return it to the landlord and to keep a copy of it for their records.
Ponte recommends taking pictures showing the apartment’s condition and documenting any and all damage. Make sure the photographs contain timestamps. This ensures that if a landlord tries to withhold the security deposit for something you did not do, you have proof.
In addition, Ponte points out that the landlord is “required to hold the security deposit in a separate, interest-bearing account and must give the tenant a receipt and notice of the bank account number.”
Finally, because a landlord can only deduct from a tenant’s security deposit for repairs that go above and beyond normal wear and tear (landlord is obligated to pay for normal wear and tear), a tenant should clean before vacating the apartment and repair damage that is easily fixed (i.e. repair drill holes, paint the apartment if you initially painted).