Thursday, September 19th, 2013
By Brodie W.
Since the dawn of property rental, the relationship between landlord and tenant has been a delicate one. When the time comes to part ways, far too often the renter and rentee do not see eye-to-eye on what is deemed acceptable for the condition of the property. As a renter, you are entitled to have your security deposit returned – barring you leave the property free of major damage or outstanding payments. Unfortunately, far too many renters have been faced with the unpleasantry of having to battle with their landlord, or worse, lose out of their deposit completely. Now… not all renters are angels. In some cases the tenant probably didn’t deserve to get their deposit back. It is easy to point fingers, but we want you to save all those fingers for packing up your FrogBox moving boxes for your big move. At FrogBox our mission is to reduce your stress during this time so we have created easy to follow guidelines to ensure that your deposit gets returned and you part from your old rental in the most harmonious way possible.
1. Knowing you’re right means knowing your rights
Tenancy agreements and tenancy acts can differ from province to province and state to state. As a renter/tenant, you should know your rights are and how to ensure that legislation is on your side when you hand back the keys. For example, did you know in many provinces the landlord cannot request for more than a half month’s rent as a security deposit? If you were asked to fork over an entire month’s rent (or more) this may be the first red flag in your tenant-landlord relationship. Do you know the difference between damage and regular wear and tear? Portions of your deposit can only be withheld to repair major damage of goods or property.
2. Preparation through documentation
Bust out that camera, smart phone and your tweediest Sherlock Holmes hat, and take note of everything. If there is damage or wear to anything in your property, be sure to take lots of pictures. When you do your walk-through, ensure that a condition form is being completed. If your landlord is not using a form make your own! When it comes time for your move-out inspection, if the landlord unjustly claims part of your deposit to repair damage – you will have insurmountable proof to prove them wrong.
3. Messy Marys and Dirty Daves need not apply
The easiest way to ensure that you get your deposit back is to be good clean tenant! It will be a lot more difficult to argue your case if you have a history of causing damage to the property and/or you leave the property without giving it a good clean. It is important to stay on top of little issues that may need the landlords attention. For example, if you have a small leak or water issue and you procrastinate of telling the landlord, you may be held responsible when the wall or floor needs to be replaced due to mold. When you move out, do your best to leave it as clean as when you moved in. This will avoid and “confusion” between dirty and damaged. Besides, it’s the right thing to do!
4. Walk-thru, Tenant Ranger (I know, that was bad..)
Once you have moved out and given the property the good sparkle that it deserves, schedule a move-out walk-through. Being there with the landlord or property manager will allow you to discuss or defend any proposed damage (this is also when your documentation will come in handy!) Ensure that when you hand over your keys, you provide a copy of your new address. This may seem minute in nature, but can risk being a detriment that could work against you if the case takes an unpleasant route.
5. Exercise your right to returned cash
If you have followed steps one through four, you should definitely be getting your deposit back. It is important, however, to be realistic in your own definition of damage. The nail holes from the pictures you put up of you and your girlfriend are wear and tear – the fist holes in the drywall from when you broke up are damage. If your landlord does withhold part or all of your deposit, review your rights and take the necessary steps to recoup what’s yours.
· Request an itemized list of the withheld expenses and receipts for the repairs in questions.
· Keep documentation off all conversations and exchanges between you and your landlord regarding the withheld money
· Remind the landlord of your right to have your money returned (again – you cannot be charged for cleaning or normal wear and tear)
· Be respectful in your communication. It may be tempting to vocalize your opinion of that person, but if the case ends up in small claims court, this will not work in your favor.