Over the years, tenants have complained that landlords/property agents do not repay their caution fees when they move out. Have you ever experienced this kind of situation or do you know someone who has this annoying experience?
The truth about the caution fee is that under the law, you have the sacrosanct right to request a refund of the caution deposit you paid along with your rent. However, some landlords/property agents get in the way of this process intending to trick you and get away with it.
What is a Caution Fee/deposit?
The caution fee, according to Cambridge online dictionary is an amount of money that someone has to pay when they rent property, use a service, etc. which will not be returned if they damage something or owe money at the end of their contract
In other words, the caution fee is a sum, usually in the form of money, that a tenant agrees to pay the landlord before moving into the rented apartment which is refundable at the end of the lease if there are no damages done by the tenant to the property. However, as said above, some landlords and their agents do always want to get away with the deposit.
Below are some of the necessary steps to take to avoid damages
- Understand the lease agreement.
Some landlords will allow you to make certain changes to the property while others won’t. A change you might consider minor may be prohibited in the lease that you signed. If you want to make major changes; such as painting a room a new color, ensure you get the landlord’s permission (and make sure it’s documented) before you do so as it will help avoid a conflict later on
- Take necessary precautions.
Right From the moment you move in, start treating the apartment like it’s yours, When entering and leaving, be careful not to damage doors, walls, or floors. During your stay, keep the house clean and in good condition. Clean up spills on the counter and floor immediately, paying special attention to brightly colored rugs and delicate countertops. Respect the equipment to keep it in good working order when moved
- Make Small Repairs.
It is inevitable for there not to be a need for repairs. Damages caused by your act should be quickly attended to.
- Report Damages.
Always ensure you report immediately damages that are not caused by you to the landlord. Damages involving more structure should be quickly relayed to the landlord in form of a document for prompt action. Don’t forget to take pictures of the damaged part of the house. Regardless of whether you want your landlord to fix the damage or not, you should still let your landlord know.
- Document Property/ Building condition.
It is sensible to take adequate photographs of the property when you are moving into the apartment as well as when you are moving out of the property. This document should be presented to your landlord when you’re moving out to avoid disagreement over
The response you get will determine whether you’ll need to carry out any repair works while you can still carry them out. If your landlord’s feedback indicates that there is no reason to hold on to your caution fee, push to get it at this meeting.
What if Your Landlord Refuses to Pay?
If your landlord refuses to refund part of your caution fee or all of it, try to negotiate. You can only negotiate for this if the refund is included in your lease agreement and this is why you need to go through the document thoroughly. The caution fee is usually a minimum of 10% of your rent so, you have to decide if the specific amount of money involved is worth your time and resources especially if you are tempted to pursue it legally.
Final Thoughts on Getting Your Caution Fee Back
While it is a known fact that there are horrid landlords who derive twisted pleasure from ripping you off, there are still good homeowners who are eager and willing to hand over your caution fee as soon as you decide to relocate especially if the property is not adjudged to be damaged.