Your rental security deposit: getting it back!
July 25, 2014
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Rock Island, Ill. -- (July 25, 2014) It's moving time in the Army! Yes we are now in the middle of Permanent Change of Station season. The calls into legal assistance have been fast and furious; especially about that rental pest aka as the security deposit. How do you deal with this issue how; and more importantly how do you get your deposit back?
The answer strangely enough starts at the beginning of your rental period. This means taking pictures of the leased premises before you move into your rental. Why? Taking pictures before you move in gives you a baseline as to what a premises looks like before you move in.
Specifically what do the walls, carpets, fixtures, floors and appliances look like at the beginning of your lease. Items that are scratched, dented, worn, burnt, broken or non standard should have your attention before the move in. Take pictures of all of the rooms; including the garage and patio or deck. Don't forget to take pictures of the yard or any area that you agree to care for in the lease. Several cases lately have dealt with significant damages to yards caused by lessee's pets.
Taking pictures with the landlord present and dating the material can help as well to verify the date and time. What you are actually creating is a baseline as to what the property looked like when you arrived. Take plenty of pictures of each room and space and then print them out. Do not leave the pictures of what the rental looked like at the beginning of the lease to languish in a cell phone that could be deleted.
Now when you are ready to move out, take pictures with furniture and without furniture to rebut any claims of damage or wear beyond normal wear and tear.
If you have pictures of your rental after you have cleaned and cleared, and your landlord still wishes to keep your deposit, make a copy of the pictures and send them certified return receipt via the USPS to the landlord asking for the deposit back. If the landlord does not agree to refund your security deposit you then may have to sue the landlord in small claims court. When in court armed with a copy of your pictures before you moved in and after you left you will have a very strong case to present to the judge in small claims court.
Everyone seems to have a cell phone these days so use it and protect yourself and your security deposit. If you have further questions do not hesitate to call the Legal Assistance Office at (309) 782-1443, to set up an appointment.