real estate

Please lease me: 7 tips for renters

Get your deposit back
Get your deposit back

Security deposits (typically one month's worth of rent or more) have two functions. They protect landlords from tenants who skip out on rent, and pay to repair damage beyond wear and tear. Veteran renters know there's a difference between being entitled to the refund of a security deposit and actually getting it back.

To improve your chances of getting your deposit returned, Chantay Bridges, a real estate specialist with Clear Choice Realty & Associates in Los Angeles, says tenants need to be proactive when moving into and out of an apartment.

"It's a good idea to videotape the apartment before moving in, and take before and after photos," Bridges says.

Renters should also document repairs, upgrades or any changes to the premises while living there. When moving out, renters should insist on a final walk-through with the landlord, and they should have a witness present in case there's a dispute later.

Bridges advises that tenants familiarize themselves with their jurisdiction's rules regarding security deposits because laws vary by state. Make a timely written request for the return of the security deposit.

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