As part of their “Lunch and Learn” series on Wednesday, the University of Connecticut’s Off Campus Student Services (OCSS) provided students with sandwiches, soda and advice on how to get their security deposits back.
The presentation covered the obligations of both tenants and landlords when tenants seek to get their security deposits back upon moving out.
OCSS programs coordinator Ashley Trotter gave the presentation and said it’s important to fully inform students about the legal side of living in rentals.
“We want students to understand their rights in the process and have a better understanding of what that specific money is supposed to be used for,” Trotter said.
Trotter stressed that students must provide their landlord with an address after they move out to send their returned security deposit to. Otherwise, the landlord is not obligated to give tenants their money back.
Trotter advised tenants send a letter requesting their security deposit from their landlord including their name, the address of the rental they occupied and the date of their move. Tenants should keep one copy of the letter for their records, and send two to their landlord, one using regular mail and the other using certified mail, so the delivery of the letter is recorded, Trotter said.
Trotter also said students should communicate with their landlords about any damage to the rental upon move-in, whether it’s a hole in the wall or something small like chipped paint. She recommended communicating through email, so there’s written proof that tenants did not cause the damage.
Trotter said students should take pictures of their apartments or houses upon move-in to document any prior damage.
“You don’t want to be the one that’s held responsible and six, nine, 12 months later, you have to pay for those kinds of issues,” Trotter said.
Overall, students who attended the presentation said they found it really helpful.
“I work at a leasing office and it’s done completely different,” eighth-semester psychology major Jana Cortese said. “I didn’t realize we had to do more of the work.”
Sixth-semester psychology major Brianna Bellavia said she was glad she learned about her responsibilities as a tenant.
“I wouldn’t have known we had to ask for the security deposit back,” Bellavia said.
Trotter also talked about “normal wear and tear” to rentals. While landlords can withhold some or all of a tenants’ security deposit to cover damages they caused to the apartment or house, Connecticut state law says they cannot withhold money for normal wear and tear, which includes scuff marks on floors and sun-fading on walls or floors.
Trotter added that if landlords do withhold their tenants’ security deposit, they must provide an itemized statement detailing each deduction. She also recommended students talk to their landlords about normal wear and tear upon move-in, so they don’t get charged for it later.
Trotter said students can take their landlords to small claims court if they have reason to get their security deposit back and the landlord is withholding it. She encouraged students to reach out for legal advice if they feel their landlord is illegally keeping their security deposit.
Trotter also said students can reach out to OCSS with any questions about their leases or security deposits.
“We are not legal experts, but... once you read a lease, you get kind of used to seeing the same stuff over and over so if there is something bizarre, usually it stands out,” Trotter said.
Schae Beaudoin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.