Common Reasons Landlords Don’t Return the Security Deposit

Most rentals in Minneapolis will require you to place a security deposit when you move in. Since a security deposit can be the equivalent of one or two months’ rent, you want to be sure that you do everything in your power to get it back when you’re moving out. Let’s explore common reasons that landlords don’t return your money and what you can do to ensure a prompt security deposit return.

Ending a Lease Early

Sometimes unexpected things come up, and they can compel you to end your lease early. Possible reasons include an exciting, new job offer or maybe a family emergency or illness. Regardless of the situation, please check the details of your lease agreement carefully. Some leases are structured to allow the landlord to deduct the remainder of your monthly rent payments from the security deposit if you move out before the lease is up. Your lease may state that you need to give the landlord 30 or 60 days notice before leaving, so be sure to check out your agreement if you want to get your full deposit back. Often, you also need to make sure that you give your notice in writing.

Unpaid Rent

If you failed to pay your rent one month, this is considered a breach of the contract agreement outlined in your lease. In most states, your landlord is able to keep your security deposit and apply it towards your outstanding rent amount. Do your best to make sure that you pay your rent every month to get your full deposit back when you move.

Unclean Property

Landlords may keep a security deposit if they feel that the rental property exceeds the limits of normal wear and tear use. If you want all of your deposit returned, it’s a good idea to take your time and clean as you’re moving out of the apartment. Landlords usually understand that grout can incur stains and that bathroom fixtures can tarnish. If you leave a fridge full of rotting food or your pet used the carpet as a bathroom, however, then the landlord may need to use some or all of your security deposit to get the place ready for a new tenant. Sometimes, they even have to use the deposit to replace carpet, fixtures, or other items in the apartment. It’s also best to make sure that you take all of your furniture and belongings with you to avoid additional cleaning or trash removal fees.

Damage to the Unit

As previously noted, landlords should expect reasonable use and changes in the property. They typically understand a few small holes in the wall from hanging pictures, but they are unlikely to refund your deposit if large damages to the property occur. Broken vanities or appliances, large holes in the wall, or big stains on a carpet can all result in the loss of your security deposit. If the apartment came furnished, damage to the furniture can also mean that you don’t get your deposit back. Consider doing a walk-out inspection with your landlord to ensure that you don’t have any surprises regarding this issue.

Damage to the unit might also include unwanted changes or upgrades. If you painted the walls a fun, new color or upgraded a bathroom vanity, then you may not get your deposit back. It’s always best to get approval from your landlord in writing before making changes to the rental unit, for not everyone agrees on upgrades or paint colors. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be held financially liable for these changes.

Unpaid Fees

Sometimes a deposit is retained when there are unpaid fees associated with the rental. Most outstanding fees are related to utility bills, and this can be a problem if the landlord deems your heating or cooling bills “unreasonable.” Do your best to keep fees and utilities to a moderate level. If you prefer to cool your place down to 60 degrees in August, then you may lose your security deposit over unpaid air conditioning bills.

Not Returning the Keys

Forgetting to return the keys to a rental can result in a security compromise for the unit. While many landlords change the locks or re-key the lock in between tenants, they still like to have the keys returned and taken into account. Save yourself and the landlord some trouble, and do your best to return the apartment keys in a reasonable manner.

These are six of the most common reasons for why landlords won’t issue a security deposit return. Armed with this knowledge, you can work to get your full deposit back, and then you can put it to work on your next home. It’s your deposit money, and now you are equipped to get it back into your wallet.