How to get your security deposit back

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 a rental security deposit refund.

Here are six tips and tricks on how to get your security deposit back from your landlord.

Tips for getting a security deposit refund

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 into trouble. When in doubt, ask your property manager or landlord. You’ll often be required to pay for professional carpet cleaning before you move out, so make sure you have prepared for the cost and time. Learn what questions to ask when renting an apartment.

If renting a home as a pet owner, pay attention to the pet language in the lease. Pet owners are subject to a separate pet deposit or fee in many rental agreements. The pet deposit is like the security deposit — it’s refundable if your pet hasn’t scratched up the house or caused other damage. Pet fees, on the other hand, are non-refundable. Check the lease details to see which you paid and if that money will be part of your security deposit refund. If you’re unsure about the lease details, ask your landlord.

2. Be respectful of the property

When renting a home or apartment, 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.

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

3. Document existing damage when 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 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. Patch 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 don’t take too long and can be 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.

5. Clean thoroughly

This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but if you plan on getting your security deposit back from your landlord, you need to make sure to clean your home or apartment thoroughly. You can clean your rental yourself or hire a cleaning service to clean for you. If you do the cleaning yourself, pay close attention to the oven, stove, drawers, cabinets, fans, showers, bathtubs, and baseboards. Those places are easy to forget about but essential to clean thoroughly if you want to maximize your rental security refund.

6. Turn in all keys and cards

Keep track of all keys and garage remotes when renting a property. If your community has pool cards or guest parking tags, make sure you turn all of them back in so you won’t pay a fee for missing items. If movers are packing you up, then make sure to set aside keys and cards so they aren’t packed.

All these ways to get your security deposit back 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.

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