Show Me the Money – A Guide to Getting Your Security Deposit Back
Many expats are getting ready to pack up their lives and move either to a new destination or back to their home country. Among the many considerations, one thing that may be playing on your mind is getting your security deposit back. It is common practice in Hungary to pay two months rent as a deposit, and when renting a large family home, this can be quite a sum of money. For most people it is a straight forward procedure, you give notice, clean the house, move out and the landlord returns your money. However life is not always straight forward, so the Expat Echo has listed some ways to make sure you get your cash back.
Giving Notice Once you know you are definitely moving, check your contract and confirm what notice period is required. Then get on and write to your landlord, explaining you will be vacating the property and you are providing the required notice. To ensure the landlord acknowledges your notice, post the letter recorded delivery.
Leave it as you found it The straight forward way to make sure you receive your full deposit, or as much of it as possible, back is to leave the property in a good state of repair. Clean it properly, or, if you don’t have the time to do so, try and box up all of your belongings and have a professional come in and scrub the place from top to bottom. Don’t give the landlord reasons to withhold any of your deposit. If they have to pay for a cleaner to spruce up your home it will cost a lot more.
The kitchen cupboard is broken or did you break the kitchen cupboard? If you have an issue with your property make sure you contact the landlord well before the move out date and ask for any repairs to be carried out. When you lease a property it is the responsibility of the landlord to keep the house in a good state of repair, however once the tenant has left and a problem is discovered, it is the fault of the tenant and will be deducted from the deposit.
Check your check –in papers If you did a check-in when you first arrived in your new home make sure you dig out the documentation and have it ready for your departure. If you don’t have a copy either your relocation firm or the realtor will have it. This will list the state of repair when you initially started your lease contract, and therefore no blame can be attributed to you for wear and tear that had already occurred. If you didn’t do a check-in, be ready to talk through any knocks that exist.
A walk round It is recommended to have a check-out meeting between yourself, the landlord (or the landlords rep) and the realtor. If you have a relocation firm working on your behalf they should go ahead and co-ordinate this and also be present to represent your best interests. It can save a lot time, hassle and, ultimately, money if you are there to speak directly with the owner. If they have any questions regarding the condition of the property you are on hand to explain and come to an agreement.
Sign on the dotted line Again your relocation company should do this, but if you are going it alone draw up a document that states that both the owner and the tenant have agreed on an amount being returned. Include in this the bank account details that the deposit should be returned to; the currency that the figure should be returned and within what time frame the payment should be made. It is recommended that you always receive payment in the currency that the initial payment was made, it can become an expensive experience if the landlord suddenly wants to return the security deposit in HUF and you paid in EURO. Lastly have two copies ready, one for you and one for the landlord.
Utilities Even if your lease agreement states utilities included, there still may be a final bill to pay. Often all inclusive lease agreements have a clause which states that if the utilities cost more than the agreed figure the tenant will need to pay the remaining amount, and visa versa – if less then you could be in for a rebate. Many expats, however pay utilities separately and will need to make a final payment. Again, your relocation firm should organize to have final meter readings done and a final bill organized, but if you’re renting independently make sure you also have a document where you can note the meter readings and it can be signed by yourself and the landlord. You can then arrange a method of payment with your landlord. Having a written agreement on the condition of the property that you have both signed, normally irons out any potential problems. However if there is something left unresolved, work to resolve the problem before you leave the country or reach an agreement with the landlord when you meet for the check out. If you have the support of a relocation company they will organize all of the above on your behalf and work to ensure you receive your deposit in full. None the less, it is always good to be in the know and have one less thing to worry about as you gear up for your next adventure.