Published on April 24, 2019

You’ve packed your bags, cleaned out your rental, and moved into your new home; now, you wait. If you’ve kept your temporary home in tip-top shape, you’ll expect to receive full reimbursement of your security deposit from your landlord—but it doesn’t always work out that way. According to a new survey from Porch, landlords, on average, hold back 36.1 percent of all security deposits from tenants.

The percentage of security deposits withheld does vary. Only 21.4 percent of deposits are reimbursed in full to tenants, while  26.5 percent of security deposits a quarter or less of the total amount is deducted to cover damages. Worried about losing all of your cash? Don’t stress out: It only occurs 15.9 percent of the time that a landlord might keep more than three-fourths of your security deposit. That means if your landlord does keep some cash from your deposit, chances are, you’ll still get the majority of it back.

So why might a landlord keep your hard-earned cash? It all depends on what’s been stipulated in your lease. According to Erin Eberlin, landlord and property investment expert at The Balances, security deposits can go towards early lease terminations, missed rent, unpaid utilities, and abnormal messes and damage. Typical wear and tear (think: grout that’s seen better days, dust, small stains, barely noticeable nail holes, and faded paint) shouldn’t be deducted from security deposits, but major fixes (big holes, missing smoke detectors, cracked countertops, and massive messes) can easily be. Just note that if your landlord does deduct anything from your security deposit, they should provide an itemized receipt of any costs.

The Porch survey also breaks down the kind of damages renters can expect landlords to cover. Over 80 percent of renters said that damage not caused by negligence (broken appliances, windows, and toilets) are a landlord’s responsibility, while only 48.5 percent reported landlords changing air filters, and just 13 percent reporting landlords changing lightbulbs.

If you’re not sure whether you’re in the wrong or right, always take another look at your lease, and don’t hesitate to look at your state’s landlord and tenant laws—and, of course, be sure to take care of your rental like you would your own property.

See more rental advice:
The Best (and Worst) Renting Advice We’ve Received

How to Fake a Backsplash in a Rental
8 Ways I Sneak Extra Storage Space Into My Tiny Studio

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