If you are due to vacate your rented apartment unit (or any other residential building, including a dorm room or bed space), your landlord should reimburse your security deposit. This is the money you gave your landlord before you moved in to the property, apart from your advance. If your unit does not have any damages and is basically ready for the next occupant to move in, the security deposit should be refunded to you in full.
But what if the landlord refuses to hand your security deposit? How do you get it back?
Step 1: Review your lease.
You have a contract, right? Go over the document and verify that you did not violate any of the rules. Make sure that the contract includes the landlord’s acknowledgment of your advance and security deposits.
A contract clearly stipulates the length of time you are to occupy the unit; if you are leaving before the agreed time is up, your landlord has the right to withhold your deposit.
But I don’t have a contract with the landlord.
You should have at least kept the receipts or acknowledgment slips from when you handed him your advance and deposit. You will also have a better chance at winning this argument if you maintained punctuality in your monthly payments.
Step 2: Clean the unit before leaving.
Make sure all fixtures such as light bulbs, faucets, electric wall sockets, pipes, cabinets, and windows are all in good working condition before you vacate the property. Clean up and sanitize rooms, especially the kitchen and bathrooms. If possible, leave the place looking better than when you moved in. Do not leave any room for your landlord to complain about damages and dirt.
Your deposit should not be used to pay for the unit’s restoration and other ordinary wear and tear such as:
- Faded wall paint
- Tacks or nails on the wall
- Black spots in the bathroom mirror
- Clogged toilet
- Stains on figurines, etc.
Step 3: Request for a report on deductions
Should there be unavoidable deductions against your deposit, you may request for a detailed report from the landlord. Ask him to itemize the expenses, including the cost of each material that he supposedly will purchase to repair your unit. This way, you can double check that all expenses shall go to damages present in your unit only.
Step 4: Know your rights
Basically, you are entitled to your security deposit and your landlord’s obligation is to hand it back to you before you leave. He has 30 days to produce the amount if he is not able to give it immediately after you vacate the property.
Should the landlord find any reason why you should not be refunded your deposit, he must send you a letter detailing the damages in your unit. If you do not receive such letter within 30 days, you may demand for your deposit.
Ultimately, complete and proper information remain to be your best weapons against stubborn landlords. It helps that they know that you did your research on tenancy laws.
Also, keep a friendly yet professional relationship with your landlord/landlady. Avoid becoming too close with them or asking for personal favors to discourage familiarity. Always command respect when dealing with them.
If you have questions about tenancy in the Philippines, drop us a line and we will do our best to find the answers for you!