What I WON’T tell you about getting your rental deposit back, but let’s cover it anyway (people always ask)

There are some things about renting a house that have been said so many times they are no longer heard. I find this advice again again on blogs, and I’ve given it 80 gazillion times, but sometimes people are so excited/stressed out when they are moving into a new rental, they let things go by. I’ll run over these suggestions one more time – just so I can say I did.

  • Read your lease. No, really, read it. Read every word, sentence, paragraph and page, and then read it again. Oftentimes when I ask new tenants if they’ve read the lease, they say ‘yes’, but I always wonder. One time I had two very honest gentlemen who said, “Uh, no, actually – can we take a minute before we sign?” I always send a copy to them via e-mail – sheesh I love the internet – and then I bring an extra copy for them to keep, for signatures. These guys each took a copy to opposite sides of the driveway and dove in, I was very impressed. My husband and I always have last minute stuff to do, so we puttered while they studied. They had questions, we chatted, I felt so much better driving away. Some people, even older people,  don’t know what a screwing they could be walking into, signing something without reading it. Sometimes I think I should put something outrageous within the body of the lease – “tenant agrees to invite Landlady to dinner once a month at their expense…”, see if they catch it.
  • Take time to do the walk-thru, take notes, even photos.  I know tenants want to get moved in, want the Landlords out of the way, but this is something you should absolutely take time to do. I take a lot of time inspecting my units and detailing them before tenants move in, I make a nice checklist for them to make notes, and I can’t remember too many tenants who’ve done this. I try to insist, but many times, they are meeting us on their lunch break or on their way somewhere and don’t want to take time.  I think I could do it in under a half hour, especially if they bring their camera. I am all for them taking pictures – I’m always afraid they’ll think I’ve doctored my pictures. But, at  the very least, tenants should turn on the lights, check the plumbing fixtures, look at any fixtures like doors, windows, etc – see if things are working, right on the spot, while the landlord/property manager is standing right there.
  • Develop a good rapport with the Landlord/Management.  Shake hands, repeat their name – handle this like any other very important social connection. While I don’t want my tenants calling me with whimsies, or insisting on bringing the rent to my house, I do like to hear from them when a faucet is leaking or the oven doesn’t light, there’s a problem with a neighbor, or  something’s been broken.  We can oftentimes fix things at no cost to the tenant. If there is expense, we can certainly minimize it by taking care of it in a timely fashion instead of letting it get worse and worse and possibly do structural damage.
  • Good neighbors are not born, they are made.  I know, this isn’t always possible, but you should at least put out your feelers, see if they’re friendly. Neighbors are important, they can be the givers of pleasure and/or pain. I’m not saying you have to kowtow to unreasonable demands, but you might want to be sure to have your campground etiquette in place: make introductions if possible, make pleasant greetings when you have to make contact, and be respectful with your activities – don’t make noise that can be heard off your property, be very careful of your parking habits, and don’t have your friends coming and going loudly at all hours. Remember, neighbors don’t have to be a nuisance or a threat – they can watch your place when you’re gone, let you know if they see anything weird. And, they oftentimes have a good relationship with your landlord and can put in a good word for you. 

This is advice you will find on other websites. It’s not guaranteed to get you your deposit back, but it will probably make your rental experience more pleasant. 


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