How to maximize your security deposit

Household 3 min read

Moving into a rental home or apartment almost always requires a security deposit when you sign your lease. Coming up with a large chunk of change can be difficult, but you often quickly forget about it upon moving in.

Once it’s time for you to move out, it’s always a pleasant little surprise when you get your rental security deposit back. Here are seven ways to maximize the return of your rental security deposit.

1. Read the lease thoroughly.

Rental agreements can be full of confusing legal jargon, but it’s always important to read them thoroughly. They’ll often include specifics on what you can and cannot do. Abiding by these rules is the easiest way to ensure you don’t get yourself into trouble.

When in doubt, ask your property manager or landlord. Many times, you’ll be required to pay for professional carpet cleaning before you move out, so make sure you’re prepared for the cost and time that will take.

2. Be respectful of the property.

When you rent a home, it’s always important to be respectful and treat it as your own.

Don’t damage the home or yard if you can avoid it and always let the landlord know immediately if something happens. It’s better to stay on top of things than for there to be lots of surprises once you move out.

3. Make sure damage is documented before moving in.

Most property managers will include photographs of the unit with the lease. These will often show scuffs, cracks, or damage that were there before you moved in.

Once you move in, if you notice anything that was left off, be sure to photograph it and send it to your property manager immediately. You don’t want previous damage to be counted against you if you didn’t cause it!

4. If you make alterations, be sure to change things back when you move out.

Sometimes painting walls is an absolute no-no, while other times, a landlord or property manager will allow it as long as you paint it back to the original color before you move out.

5. Patch holes.

This one got us when we moved out of our last apartment, because I ran out of time before we had to hand over the keys.

I’m a big believer in hanging artwork and family photos on the walls, but lots of nails means lots of holes. Hanging things on the walls is a relatively easy way to make your new place feel like home, but it’s important to remember to patch the holes before you move out.

It can seem daunting, especially if you’ve created a gallery wall or two in your home, but spackling and sanding really doesn’t take too long and can be kind of fun once you get into a groove. Avoid hanging things like screw-in towel racks on doors though, because those can be trickier to patch, especially if the door is hollow.

6. Clean thoroughly.

This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but if you want your security deposit back, you need to make sure that your home or apartment is cleaned thoroughly.

Before having kids, I always did this part myself, but now that we have three young children in tow, we choose to outsource this. We recently moved from Hawaii back to the mainland, and even though it was expensive to pay someone to clean the three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment that we’d lived in for the past three years, it saved a lot of time and energy for us and was well worth the investment.

If you do the cleaning yourself, make sure to pay close attention to the oven, stove, drawers, cabinets, fans, showers, bathtubs, and baseboards. Those places are easy to forget about but so important to clean thoroughly if you want to maximize the return of your rental security deposit.

7. Turn in all keys and cards.

Make sure you keep track of all keys and garage remotes when you’re renting a home.

If your community has pool cards or guest parking tags, make sure you turn all of them back in so you won’t be charged for missing items. If movers are packing you up, then make sure keys and cards are set aside so that they aren’t packed!

All of these ways to maximize your rental security deposit are common sense. Just remember to leave your home or apartment looking like it did when you moved in, and you should be good to go! And remember, if it’s an apartment, house, or condo, be sure to always keep yourself protected with Progressive.

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