8 Tips To Get Your Security Deposit Back
March 24, 2023
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A security deposit is a standard part of renting.
Almost every person will pay one at some point in their life.
And, because a security deposit is refundable, every tenant wants to get all of that money returned.
So, in this article, we’ll cover 8 tips to make sure you get your security deposit back.
1) Read Your Lease Carefully
It all starts with your lease. Although leases can be a bit dense, you should take the time to read the entire document (yes, even the fine print). Your lease includes a ton of valuable information and the details factor into whether or not you get your security deposit back.
Most of it should be obvious—like making sure to leave the unit in good condition when you move out, taking out the trash, cleaning up messes—but some leases have addendums that involve things like painting the walls back to their original color, plugging nail holes in the walls, or cleaning the floors. Once you know what you need to keep an eye out for, place a copy of the lease in a safe spot where you can reference it, as needed.
2) Review the Move-in Checklist
When you move into a new place, you may receive an inventory and condition form to complete. This form documents any existing damage to the unit before you officially move in. This is a critical step in the move-in process, but it also helps when it’s time to vacate the premises and get your security deposit back.
For instance, if there was a crack in the ceiling or spots on the wall, you will have documented proof to contest anything you may get charged for that was pre-dated your occupancy.
If your landlord doesn’t provide you with a move-in checklist, it might be prudent to download one from a reputable site or create your own and send to your landlord to have it on file for future reference.
3) Schedule a Move-out Inspection
Most landlords and property managers will schedule a walk-though of your unit prior to your move-out date to see if any major repairs are needed before they market the unit again.
If your landlord doesn’t schedule an inspection, you should take the initiative and request one. A week or two before your official move-out date is the ideal time. You want to make sure there isn’t anything outstanding that needs fixed or cleaned to ensure you get your deposit back.
The inspection is vital because it ensures you and your landlord are on the same page before you leave the premises. You should get a very good idea of how much money you can expect to get back for your security deposit.
4) Make Necessary Repairs
The inspection will bring any remaining repairs to light that need your attention. Once you know what you need to fix (if anything), it’s time to put your head down and work.
If there aren’t specific things that need your attention, just be sure to fill any holes left by removed nails and fix any broken door handles or window blinds. Also, if you repainted your unit to a new color, and your lease stipulates that the wall must be its original color, then paint it back to that color.
Cleaning your unit thoroughly is one of the best ways to ensure you get the full security deposit back. A deep clean may not be necessary but take this process seriously and get the place looking as good as possible.
Things like removing stains in the carpets, marks on the walls, crumbs on the countertops and cleaning the grime and dirt off of the baseboards will go a long way.
And, if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, hire a company to make sure the place is clean and neat. Check with your landlord before you hire outside help, but landlords will typically be amenable to this idea. It saves them time and effort. And, with the right company, it gives you a much better chance of getting your entire security deposit refunded.
6) Don’t Leave Anything Behind
Remember to get all of your stuff off the property. Landlords will probably deduct from your security deposit for anything left behind that they have to remove. Even items as small as silverware or hangers could lead them to deduct money from your deposit.
So, with that said, check every nook and cranny to ensure that you moved everything out before you leave.
7) Take Pictures When You Move out
Taking photos before you leave is particularly important if you live with other people. You might leave your room looking pristine, but there’s no guarantee your roommates did the same.
If you can’t move out simultaneously with your roommates, take pictures to show the condition of your room and send it to your landlord right away. This will give you a chance of getting more money back even if your roommates don’t clean up to the same standard as you.
8) Return Your Keys
It’s obvious, but don’t forget to return your keys and anything else that may need to get back to your landlord (I.e., a parking permit).
If you fail to return a mail key or lose a parking permit, the money will almost certainly be deducted from your security deposit to replace these items.
Who doesn’t want their full security deposit refunded?
By following the eight tips outlined here, you’ve got a great chance at getting it all back.
For more helpful tips when renting, check out our tenant renting guide here.