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Getting your deposit back

You’ve found an apartment that suits your needs and decide to move in. But before the landlord hands you the keys, you’re going to be asked put down a security deposit. In theory, your deposit will be returned when you move out, so long as you don’t damage the property while you’re renting. To ensure that reality synchs up with theory, you need to protect yourself from the start.

Step one? Familiarize yourself with landlord-tenant laws in your community and be sure to read the entire lease carefully. All leases should have an end date. Unless you notify your landlord before hand that you’d like to stay past the date, you could be in breach of contract if you do. Most leases also have a clause regarding how much notice you must provide to your landlord if you are going to leave. Always communicate in writing with your landlord regarding this, most of the time an email or a text message will suffice.

Prior to moving in, do a walkthrough with your landlord and complete a rental inspection checklist. Bring your camera with you and be sure to take photos of all damage you see so your landlord can’t hold it against you. Once you fill out the form, be sure to sign and date it and have your landlord do the same.

Familiarize yourself with the landlord-tenant laws in your community and be sure to read the entire lease carefully. All leases should have an end date. Unless you notify your landlord before hand that you’d like to stay past the date, you could be in breach of contract if you do. Most leases also have a clause regarding how much notice you must provide to your landlord if you are going to leave. Always communicate in writing with your landlord regarding this, most of the time an email or a text message will suffice.

Be sure to restore the unit to its prior condition if you plan on moving out. Start by patching any holes you made in the walls to hang pictures. Repaint any in its original color unless you have written approval from the landlord in advance of painting the walls a different color.

Take a close look at the cabinets and be sure to tighten any loose hinges. Finally after all your personal belongings are out, be sure to give the place a deep cleaning including the inside the oven and refrigerator.

Once all of that has been completed, contact your landlord and schedule a final walkthrough with them. Be sure to take photos of the property before you move out; these can be used later if an issue arises.

Be sure to photograph every room and surface including the windows and send a copy to your landlord. Most cameras have the ability to stamp the date on the photo. If yours does, be sure to have it on.

Lastly, always hand the keys to your landlord or a representative personally, and leave a forwarding address in case you need to be contacted.

To contact me, call 847-292-4700, e-mail gz@zerillorealty.com or visit www.zerillorealty.com.

About Giuseppe Zerillo

Giuseppe Zerillo is the managing broker and owner of Zerillo Realty Inc. He is active on many boards, serving as sergeant-at-arms for the village of Harwood Heights and corporate secretary for Casa Italia. In 2011, he received the IANU Foundation's 2011 David Award for outstanding promise in the field of real estate, and in 2012 he was honored by the Illinois State Crime Commission for his community outreach. Constantly seeking opportunities to give back, he donates to several charities and raises money for children with disabilities.

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