Rental Deposit Dilemmas


The husband and I just turned in the keys to our apartment and I have to say, I’m nervous. No, I’m not worried about being “homeless,” especially since we already have our new apartment reserved at the other end of this PCS. No, I’m a bit worried about the apartment complex doing sneaky things with our security deposit.

The first place we lived in Chicago seemed really great when we told them we were going to have to break our lease per the military clause. They were understanding, nodded and smiled, and even allowed us to pull our U-Haul into the loading dock. We handed in the keys, left the area, and then the fun started....

I got a bill in the mail a week or two later for $90 for “using flat paint on semi gloss walls” and a note saying the amount had been deducted from our security deposit. I never painted anything in Chicago. Unfortunately, being the novice apartment renter and military wife that I was, I never thought to photograph or video tape the apartment upon check out. I just trusted them to do the right thing, which was a $90 mistake. I had no way to prove I hadn’t painted and the charge stood.

Apparently, I’m a slow learner. In Charleston, a crazy last minute change of orders meant I was handling the move sans hubby. This was my first experience with packers and movers, and they grabbed the camera before I even thought of taking pictures. This time I had painted, but had been told that they would repaint anyway so not to worry about it, especially since we were leaving so last minute. Not getting that promise in writing cost me $150.

This time around, the apartment was very unwilling to do a walk through before we left. They said we could “come back and see the damages” if there were any. That doesn’t quite work when you are moving cross-country. So, after much debate, they agreed to a “pre-walk through,” but refused to sign off on anything lest we wreck the place in the twenty-four hours left on our lease. This was frustrating, but it was the best offer we were going to get. Because of the “pre-walk through” we were able to replace the drip pans on the stove to avoid a $25 charge for an item that cost $12. Not a huge savings, but a little less money flying out of the account for this PCS. After they were finished checking over the place, I used our video camera to film each room before leaving. I hope I’m being overly cautious this time around, but if not, at least I have proof!

Anyone else have any security deposit dilemmas? Any other apartments that treat you great until you have to break a lease? Any tips for first time or relatively new renters?

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