Alice, Help Me Get My Deposit Back When I Move

updated May 4, 2019
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Hi Alice!

After living in an apartment I’ve loved for three years, I’ve decided that when my lease is up in May I’ll be moving out, finally giving in to the reality that it’s not big enough for me and my boyfriend to live comfortably long term. Here’s the question: starting in November of last year, both the units below mine (it’s a six-unit section of a building with 24 units total) were vacant and over the past three months were gutted. They went down to studs in some sections, laid new flooring, repaired plumbing, ripped out and rebuilt closets, whole nine yards. The building is at least 80 years old, and these are all good, necessary updates. Normally when I move out I go through the repair list to get my security deposit back: fill nail holes, paint some primer, clean the whole place up…basically leave it in the state I found it (or better). But my super said they’ll probably be redoing my unit like the others and more than that, when I moved in the timing was off and they didn’t repaint the place so I did it myself (my super was aware). When I tell them I won’t be renewing my lease, would it be wise to ask them what their expectations are? I honestly don’t feel like spending a weekend putting up primer if they’re just going to rip the walls down.

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Moving On Up

Dear MOU,

By all means yes! It sounds like you will be leaving your apartment better than you found it anyway so there’s most likely no need to spend time spackling during an already stressful moving weekend. In fact, it sounds like your super already give you your answer when he told you that your apartment would most likely get the same makeover that you’ve witnessed in the other units.

But it is important that you talk to the building manager (or the person to whom you pay your rent), not just the super, as he is the one who will be dealing with your deposit. Tell him exactly what you wrote here: you’d normally do certain “moving out” tasks but you suspect your apartment is slated for a major redo so is this actually necessary? Make sure to mention that you’ve taken great care of the apartment so you expect to get your entire deposit back and you want to do whatever necessary to make sure that happens (without doing MORE than necessary, of course). It seems like you have a great relationship with management so I suspect this won’t be a problem at all.

And, not for nothing, but think about passing down your fantastic apartment (which will hopefully become even more so) to a friend who will appreciate it as much as you have.

Good luck!



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