Learn How to Protect Yourself Legally When Renting for the First Time

When you rent a home, you often have to put down a specific amount of money as the security deposit. The security deposit is an amount of money that the landlord will use to make any repairs that need to be done to the home after you leave.

It is important to realize that there are things you need to do before agreeing to rent the property in order to be sure you do not end up paying for damage that you did not cause to the rental home. Use the following guide to learn how to protect yourself from having to pay for unfair damages.

Take Pictures of the Property

Before you rent a property, you will walk through it with the landlord to see what it looks like on the inside and the outside of the home. As you are doing the walk through, be sure to take pictures of any damage that you see in the home. If the landlord asks you why you are taking pictures, explain that you are getting documentation for any damage that is already in the home so that you cannot be blamed for it later on down the road. If the landlord has a problem with you doing this, you should not rent the property from them.

Have the Pictures Verified

Print the pictures out and take them with you to meet with the landlord when you go to meet to discuss the terms of the rental agreement. Have the landlord sign and date the back of each picture to verify that they are indeed pictures of damage that was present in the home before you moved into it. Be sure to store the pictures in a safe place so that you will know where they are if you ever need to use them.

Know Your Rights

When it is time to leave the property, it is important to know your rights. The amount of time a landlord has to return a security deposit varies from state to state. It is important to know the laws in your state so that you can know the exact length of time the landlord has to return your deposit.

You also need to know the laws regarding him or her keeping all or some of the deposit to make repairs on the house. Many states consider normal wear and tear to be walls needing to be painted and carpets needing to be cleaned. You should be aware of what will be taken out for maintenance cleaning and what will be taken out for something that is your fault.

If the landlord refuses to return your deposit to you after you have left the home because they claim you made the damages that were already in the home when you moved into it, take him or her to small claims court. You can use the pictures that you took when you moved in to prove that you did not cause the damage; the judge should rule in your favor if no other damage was caused to the home while you lived in it.

For more tips and suggestions, consult resources such as ABA Rental Properties Inc.