It’s a rare departing tenant who doesn’t have some hassle with the landlord over the return of the deposit. Some landlords don’t know the law, and many haven’t set up their business to make it clear from the outset what they expect, in the way of cleanliness, when their tenants move out. You can do a lot both to educate the landlord and to impose some standards that you can count on.

Inspect and photograph the rental unit before you move in. Without objective proof of the condition of the unit when you moved in, it will be difficult to effectively counter a landlord’s claim that you caused damage that, in fact, was there when you took over. Pictures don’t lie. (See our move-in tips in Chapter 2.)

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