Step by step for Getting Your Security Deposit Back

Every lease agreement has a clause on terminating, and you’ll need to follow these requirements exactly if you want your deposit back.
Pay your last month’s rent on time and keep a copy of your check or request a receipt. Store the copy in a safe place with your exit notice and check how much does move out cleaning cost if you hire a cleaning company.

Do Small Repairs

Making repairs before moving out is a balancing act. Odds are that your landlord will charge you more to fix something than it would cost to do it yourself, but don’t overdo it. Only make repairs you can do quickly and cheaply. For example, don’t fix anything that came broken and don’t improve another person’s property for the sake of your security deposit.

Make small and easy repairs, including

  • Patch Holes. Use putty and some paint to patch up any holes you made hanging pictures or curtains.
  • Paint. If you painted any room in the rental, paint it back to its original color.
  • Replace Light Bulbs and Batteries. Add light bulbs to any burned out fixtures and check the batteries in the smoke detector.
  • Make the Stove Look New. If you burned anything on the pans below the burners, replace them rather than clean them. These only cost a few dollars at a hardware store.
  • Make the Bathroom Shine. Use a bleach pen or white paint to touch up any stains or marks you caused in the sink or bathtub.

Cleaning is more important

By law, you only have to leave your rental “broom clean.” Since broom clean is a highly subjective term, it’s best to err on the side of caution and leave your rental “brand-spanking-new clean.” top-to-bottom cleaning job. Start by dusting off the ceiling fans and don’t stop until you’ve mopped all the floors. Pay special attention to the kitchen and the bathroom as they get the dirtiest. Don’t forget the small things like cleaning inside appliances, dusting the blinds, and vacuuming the closets.

Take Your Stuff

If you leave anything behind, especially something big, the landlord will have to hire someone to remove it, which will come out of your security deposit. Double and triple check storage areas, closets, drawers, and cabinets before you leave for the last time.

Return Your Keys

Many tenants forget this step and it costs them. When you’re finally out of your rental, contact your landlord and set up a time to drop off the keys. Make sure you give him everything you have, including gate and mailbox keys. Otherwise, the landlord will charge you a replacement fee for every key you take with you.

  • Be Careful with the Walls. A lot of renters use expandable brackets to brace large pictures and furniture to the walls. But these brackets often leave large holes when you remove them later. If at all possible, find a less damaging way to display your decor.
  • Keep the Rental in Good Shape. Treat the space like it’s your own property and not “just a rental.” Keep it clean and in good condition while you’re living there. For example, clean up spills on the counters and floors immediately and be particularly careful with light-colored carpets and counters that can stain easily. Treat appliances with respect so they remain in good working order when it’s time to move out.
  • Pay Your Rent on Time. Make sure you have your rent check to your landlord by the due date each month. This is the single easiest way to get and stay in good graces with your landlord. He may also be more forgiving of small wear and tear you cause if you maintain a good relationship.
  • Move-Out Inspection. Ask your landlord to complete a move-out inspection with you after you’ve moved your belongings and cleaned the apartment. Have the landlord explain any damages. If pre-existing damages are noticed, show your landlord the list you agreed on in your move-in inspection as well as the photos you took. You can offer to fix new damages yourself or try to negotiate down the cost of the deduction from your security deposit. Get any agreements in writing so your landlord won’t be tempted to renege on them.
  • Move-In Inspection. Ask your landlord to inspect the apartment with you before you move in. While doing the walk-through, keep a list of any damages you notice. Inspect everything from top to bottom, including inside the drawers, cabinets, and closets. Have your landlord sign off on your damages list. If the landlord makes any promises to repair major damage you notice, get the promise in writing. Keep a copy of both documents so you can use them to prove pre-existing damage, if necessary, when you move out.
  • Take Photos. Before you move in your furniture, take clear photos of every room with a date stamp, including inside the closets as well as outside areas, such as balconies. If any damage exists, take close-up photos as well. A visual will help prove pre-existing damage should the landlord try to take it out of your deposit.
  • Move in Carefully. Take care when moving your furniture in for the first time and when rearranging pieces later. Bulky items can scratch floors, rip paint off of walls, and ding door jambs. Add pads underneath chair legs to keep them from scratching the floor when you move chairs in, out, or around.
  • Read the Lease Before You Make Changes. Some landlords will allow you to paint, while others request you don’t even use small nails in the walls. A change you might consider minor may be prohibited by your lease. If you want to make major changes, such as painting a room a new color, get the landlord’s permission in writing before you do so as it will help avoid a conflict later on.

Keep good records, and follow up, our responsibility as renters  is to do this to get our deposit back and you should have no problems getting your security deposit back.

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