When you move out of an apartment, your landlord does not bill you for new carpets and a paint job unless you caused damage to the apartment beyond normal wear and tear. Initially, charges for damage repair are deducted from your security deposit, but you may be billed for any costs that exceed the deposit total.
If you're still in college, you may have never signed a lease before. When your landlord presents you with a lease, read it carefully, because you'll be legally bound by it. Typically, the landlord collects a security deposit and may give you an inventory checklist that lists the contents of the apartment, such as furniture and appliances. This paper should also feature any notes about the condition of the unit. Review the inventory checklist, offer corrections if you notice additional flaws or areas of damage and provide the updated list to your landlord. Take photographs to document any problems with the condition of the apartment and file them with your lease for easy reference.
Normal Wear and Tear
While you live in an apartment, you retain the right to enjoy the comforts of home in the unit. This includes hanging pictures on the wall if the lease allows it or gradually wearing down the carpet in high-traffic areas over time, which is considered normal wear. It doesn't include a broken window, torn carpeting or a hole in the wall. If the only problems with the unit when you leave are the result of normal wear and tear or issues noted on the inventory checklist, you should not be billed for repairs.
Preparing to Move
As you prepare to move, take steps to protect your security deposit and prevent any damage charges. Review your apartment using the inventory checklist and any added notes. When a small issue like a carpet stain needs attention, clean the carpet to remove the spot. Give your entire apartment a thorough cleaning before turning over the keys. Consider contacting your landlord to arrange a final walk-through before you move out or take dated photographs to document the condition of the apartment when you vacated it.
Security Deposit Return and Billing
When you leave your apartment, your landlord should return your security deposit within the time frame mandated by state law, generally three to four weeks. If he finds damage, an itemized statement listing the cost for repairs must be provided within the same period. He may also bill you for any additional funds needed. For example, if you put down a $500 security deposit and caused carpet damage that led to $600 in replacement costs, the landlord can send you a bill for the remaining $100. However, you retain the right to protest the charges and take your landlord to small claims court to recover your funds.
Ashley Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and a BSBA in accounting from Columbia. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter for Gannett.