Any time a landlord rents out an apartment, he is taking a risk. If he gets the wrong type of tenant, his asset could be virtually destroyed. When you are asked to provide a security deposit it will cover any damages that you may make to the apartment when you are living there.
The deposit covers other thing besides damages as well. Most leases contain a clause that states that the apartment must be left in the same condition as it was when you first moved into it. If, for instance, you decide to upgrade the beige paint job in the apartment to a baby blue colour, you have made changes to the unit. The landlord has the right to take funds out of your security deposit to repaint the apartment.
It doesn’t matter whether you think you upgraded the apartment by providing a brand new paint job. You made changes and can be billed for them unless you have previous authorization to paint the unit in blue from your landlord.
If you do get the approval to make any changes, it must be done in writing. Once you have signed a physical contract any amendments to it must be made physically as well. A verbal contract regarding the changes can be disputed. You must get things recorded in writing.
The best way to protect yourself to insure that you can get back your security deposit without any problem is to take before and after pictures of the apartment. Before moving in your furniture, take out you cell phone and snap some pictures of the apartment. If you notice anything broken, stained or dirty, be sure to take close-up pictures of the specific areas. Then, once you have moved out, take some more pictures that can prove the condition of the apartment when you left it. This way, you will have proof that you can easily provide should any questions arise concerning your security deposit and how much you’ll get back.