How to Save on Your Security Deposit

Whether you live in an apartment or a rental home, you likely have to deal with security deposits. These are large amounts of money that are used to protect the landlord and provide collateral for damages or other tenant issues.

 

There is a surprising amount of information to learn about security deposits, and many tenants across America do not even realize that you can eventually get your deposit back if you carefully follow the rules of your lease. You can save money for the express purpose of paying your security deposit, as long as you are responsible and can stick to your budget. If you are especially careful, you may be able to get back the deposit at the end of your lease!

What is a security deposit?

When you get a new apartment or rental home, there are different kinds of financial responsibilities that you must be aware of. A security deposit is an amount of money that allows your landlord to have some financial “security” in the instance that you damage the apartment, cannot make your rent payment on time or even leave unexpectedly. They are also separate from the monthly rent, utility bills, renter’s insurance and other administration fees, and are usually paid to the landlord before you are able to move in.

Your security deposit amount will usually depend on your landlord – however, a common amount is one to two months’ worth of rent. This is often a significant amount of money, especially for those who live from paycheck to paycheck. Therefore, it is critical to save for your security deposit before you decide on (and sign the lease for) a new apartment. Once you have begun living in the apartment, there are a few steps that you can take in order to ensure that you pay as little as possible on future deposits, and get that money back when you are ready to move out.

 

Best Tips for Maximum Security Deposit Savings

Paying your security deposit does not need to be an overly expensive and difficult endeavor. There are many ways that you can save money on this cost, including:

  • Sticking to your budget. No matter who you are, making a budget is hard work. It can be especially challenging to determine which of your everyday costs are necessary, and which ones can be trimmed down to save money. However, by sitting down and acknowledging the common purchases that you can avoid, such as coffee purchases, movies, restaurant visits or video games, you can save a surprising amount of money that you might need to get a new apartment.
  • Saving specialized funds. Following a budget is the first step to saving, but earmarking all or part of that newly-saved money is key to covering big, specific costs like security deposits. The best way to accomplish this is different for everyone. However, some common methods include setting up a savings account or using a piggy bank for spare change. By taking a small percentage out of your paycheck each month and stashing it away, you can easily cover a security deposit, and even build a safety net for the future.
  • Negotiating with your landlord. It can be difficult for many people to do, but negotiation is almost always an option with landlords. If you feel like your security deposit is too high (or you cannot afford it at all), talking with your landlord and asking for a lower deposit is certainly a good method. While not all negotiation tactics work, it usually does not hurt to ask. Letting future landlords know of your interest in their apartment is important. However, if you communicate to them that another apartment complex is offering a better security deposit deal, they may feel pressured to match that deal in order to gain you as a tenant. The ability to prove a good renting history/credit score can be especially helpful in these negotiations.

So by utilizing these methods, you can save a lot of money with a lot of different options for how to use it. Thus, saving for your security deposit should never be too difficult.

What to Avoid in Order to Keep a Low Deposit

Once you have agreed upon a security deposit, you can pay that amount to your landlord and begin living in your apartment or rental house. But if you are not careful with your new living space, it can be quite easy to both lose your first deposit and even need to pay more to the landlord.

 

Apartment managers will need to use security deposits only in the case that something happens to the apartment or the person who is renting it. They set their own rules for the apartment, which are listed under the contract that renters must sign. While some contracts ban certain things such as renovations or pet ownership, others allow these things by paying a special monthly fee on top of the rent. Following these rules, as well as getting good renter’s insurance in case of an accident, is crucial in order to keep your security deposit as low as possible.

How to Get Your Security Deposit Back

Finally, once you are ready to move out of your apartment or rental home, you may wish to get back your security deposit (especially if your landlord has not needed to use it). This can be a welcome amount of money, especially if you are moving on to a different apartment with a new security deposit. To safely and efficiently get back your unused security deposit, you can:

  • Make sure that your landlord is reputable online, and re-read your lease to check for any specific deposit rules.
  • Document the state of your apartment at the beginning and end of your lease, including photos so that you can disprove any incorrect claims.
  • Keep your apartment clean and undamaged, and only make renovations/paint jobs if they are permitted by your landlord.
  • Know your specific rights as a renter, including the right to a reason for the denial of your security deposit return.

By following the rules established by your landlord and being a responsible and respectful tenant, you should be able to get your security deposit back and use that money for whatever you wish.

 

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