What does a security deposit cover? Will I get it back?

Before you move into your Clearwater apartment, you will probably be asked to provide a security deposit. If you've never lived in an apartment before, you may be surprised at this request. What exactly are you securing with this deposit? Is this a standard practice?

A security deposit is basically a standard transaction when renting an apartment. The security deposit will be required before your landlord can guarantee your Clearwater apartment. How much your security deposit is will depend largely on your monthly rent. The more expensive your apartment is, the more expensive your security deposit will be. In many states, there are laws limiting the amount of a security deposit to a month or two of your rent price. Currently, Florida does not have any such laws.

A security deposit is basically your landlord's way of protecting themselves. Some tenants may cause damage to their apartment in Clearwater, and the landlord must fix it after the tenant moves out. If the tenant has already paid a security deposit, the landlord simply uses this money to pay for the repairs. If the tenant does not damage anything and leaves the apartment in good condition, as it was when they moved in, they will receive their security deposit back.

If you've been renting for a while, you should have experience with security deposits. Sometimes, the renter and the landlord disagree about damage caused to the apartment. There is an important distinction to keep in mind here – normal wear and tear verses other damages. A security deposit is not meant to cover normal wear and tear, such as the carpet being more worn in high-traffic areas. However, if you punch a hole in the wall or tear the cabinet doors off their hinges, you can expect to have those repairs taken out of your security deposit.

Many landlords offer you a checklist of things to look at when you first move in. On this list, you should note anything that is not in perfect condition, such as a cracked tile or a leaky faucet. You will not be charged for things that you point out as already broken. When you move out, you will also want to fill out a form, noting the condition of your Clearwater apartment. If you can, see if your landlord will walk through your apartment with you, pointing out anything that the will charge you for. If you are able, fix these areas.

As with just about every aspect of renting, read your lease! Each apartment complex has their own specific rules about your security deposit. They may charge for cleaning the apartment, they may not. They may use your security deposit to cover your last month's rent, they may not. Know what is expected of you before you sign. If you do what is prescribed in your lease, getting your security deposit back shouldn't be a problem.

These are the opinions of writers and not the opinions of RentTampaBay.com or any of our advertising partners.