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How To Avoid The Unforeseen Nightmare Of Losing Your Security Deposit


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Imagine this: You’re a renter, and your lease is up. You’ve finally found another place after months of searching. You’ve had sleepless nights. You’ve packed all the stuff your family has accumulated over the years. You’ve hired movers, cleaners, and handymen. You’ve done all you can to return the rental place to top condition. Then… the agent or his/her landlord comes by, picks EVERYTHING apart, and insists that they have to take a cut out of your rental deposit. Or worse: They want the Whole. Dang. Thing. 


security deposit

I’m always apprehensive about a handover. I’ve heard about this happening to friends, and it has also happened to me. We’re hearing more and more horror stories of owners making unreasonable demands and holding deposits as ransom. 

With vague wording like “fair wear and tear” and “reasonable use”, how do you prevent the owner from demanding you pay out-of-pocket for something you shouldn’t have to foot? (Like no, I am not buying you a new aircon?!) 

Literally no one wants to go through the hassle of paying for a lawyer to file a claim with the Small Claims Tribunals. So…

Here are 3 basic tips to make sure you get your security deposit back:

1. Schedule regular aircon servicing and keep those receipts!

Most landlords would state in the tenancy agreement that you’ll have to service all the air conditioning units in the home every 3 months. That’s 4 times a year. If you don’t schedule all these appointments in advance, sometimes it’ll slip your mind — and while you may think being late to these agreements wouldn’t hurt, it can come back to haunt you.

If something is wrong with any air-conditioning unit, and you can’t prove you have been servicing them regularly as agreed upon in the contract, the landlord can absolutely claim you caused the damage, and ask you to pay for major repairs after you’ve moved out. So every time you have your air-conditioners serviced, make sure to ask for the receipts and, here’s the important bit – keep them: you never know if you need to show them to your landlord when you move out. I didn’t think to keep the receipts, so I had to call every guy that came to look at our aircons and asked for electronic copies. Nightmare and a waste of time. 

2. Carry out joint inspections WITH your landlord and/or their agent

This applies to two separate occasions: when you first move in AND when you’re moving out. Most people will know to take note of existing flaws, issues and damage when they’re just starting the tenancy. But take note: after your lease is up, you should also have a walkthrough with your landlord or their agent again to go through everything, instead of having them go through the place on their own after you’ve left. 

It is best practice to have photographic evidence and to have the landlord acknowledge any pre-existing damages in writing when you first move in. That way, when it comes time to survey the place at the end of your stay, you can easily refer to the forms you’ve both signed. It’s best to do this in person so things can be clarified immediately and you can both agree on what you’re responsible for rectifying. Remote back-and-forth disagreements over the phone generally take a much longer time to resolve.

3. Source your own repairmen/cleaning services

If something does need to be repaired or dealt with at the end of your lease, anything that needs fixing will come out of your security deposit if you choose to let your landlord handle it.  So this means that they can go ahead and choose a pricey cleaner/repair guy on your dime.

So, it’s a good idea to handle the repairs yourself, and find the contractors of your choice to do so. It may take up a little more time and some research, but at least you know you’re getting them done at a fair price if you’ve shopped around. Maybe a couple of weeks before the official handover date, get the landlord or their agent to come by and agree on what needs fixing,  and you can be sure of getting your full deposit back on time.

It’s also a good idea to get professional cleaners to come by one last time right at move-out. It costs a little more, but it can go a long way and ensure you have a fuss-free time getting outta there.

But we acknowledge – sometimes you can follow all the rules, read the agreements over and over again, keep all the receipts and do all the repairs, and STILL have to deal with an unreasonable/crooked landlord who makes your life a living nightmare. If that’s the case,  you gotta do what you gotta do – file a legal claim and get that money back. 

If you’re looking for a home to move into, don’t hesitate to contact us via our Live Chat, Whatsapp, or fill up this form, and book a free consultation with our knowledgeable and experienced in-house agents. They can help you rent or buy your next dream home. 

Contributed by Audrey Siek, host and producer at Ohmyhome.

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