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8 Steps to Getting Your Security Deposit Back

Coming up with the money for the security deposit can be quite a stretch, and it would be a terrible waste to lose it. Follow these eight steps to make sure you get it back when it’s time to move on and move out:

1. Study the lease
Your lease lists all your legal obligations to your landlord. Provided you don’t violate the lease, your landlord won’t have a valid reason to hold on to your deposit. Look closely at the termination clause and know exactly how much notice you are expected to give when you decide to move out. Also pay special attention to the changes you are allowed and not allowed to make to the rental.

2. Moving In
Inspect the property closely upon moving in and document any problems you see, preferably by snapping some pictures. Certain imperfections may seem minor, but it’s good to have those photos in the event that you’re blamed for them later.

3. Take Care of the Rental
While you are not liable for normal wear and tear (for example a worn carpet or fading paint), you are expected to keep the property in good condition. Be careful when you mount shelves, pictures or other objects on the walls. Some mounting fixtures can leave very unsightly holes. You are also not responsible for damage to the rental from a fire, storm or act of vandalism. If any damage of that kind occurs, report it to your landlord immediately and keep a record of your communications.

4. Pay Your Dues
Pay all your final bills before moving out. Take meter readings on move out day for your own records and notify your utility suppliers as soon as you can.

5. Repair Damages
If you’ve caused damage to the rental, fix it. Make sure repairs are compliant with the lease and that they’re to the landlord’s liking or else minor damage might be perceived as major. Filling holes in the walls is a must, and check your lease to see if you’re required you to do more in the way of painting. Some landlords demand that renters paint the house “renter’s white” upon moving out.

6. Clean Up
Before you move out, clean the rental thoroughly. Pay special attention to the bathroom and kitchen. Clean the toilet and tiling in the bathroom. Scrub the oven, wipe down the refrigerator, make sure the sink is clean and the dishwasher drain is cleared. Grimy windows make any room feel grimy so make sure to clean them well too. A simple dust and vacuum to most other rooms should do.

7. Clear Out
You should leave the property empty. You might think you’re being very nice to leave behind a roll of toilet paper and some light bulbs but if you want to be on the safe side and get that deposit back, it’s better to leave no trace.

8. Move Out Inspection
Try to meet your landlord for a move out inspection. This will give you an opportunity to show your landlord the great shape in which you are leaving the apartment and ask for the deposit back. You’re more likely to get it when you ask for it face to face.


Do you have a great tip to add to this list? Share it in the comments!