How to Get Your Security Deposit Back When Moving

A security deposit is a certain amount of money you give to your landlord or leasing company before you move in. This amount, usually equal to one month’s rent, is used to cover any damage or cleaning cost after moving day. Assuming when you move out you leave the apartment in the same condition as when you moved in, then you get this amount back. The security deposit is meant to protect the landlord from unscrupulous renters who may trash the apartment.

Many landlords are quite reasonable when it comes to giving back your security deposit. However, you should still take the necessary precautions in order to ensure you get your money back.

Before Your Move:

Before moving day, make sure you check up on your leasing company or landlord. A quick Google search may provide you the information you need. Finding out if your landlord has a bad reputation may make you think twice before renting with them, and save you a lot of headache in the future.

You have to do your own due diligence before your move. Ask your landlord or leasing company for a checklist of the various rooms (or make one yourself) so you can make a detailed description of the condition of the apartment or house. Use a camera to take pictures of any damage and of the general condition of the room. Also do a room by room walk-through the entire place, so you and the landlord can sign off on your assessment. Make copies for yourself and the landlord so everything is well documented. Read your lease carefully before you sign it and make sure you understand all the terms and conditions. Note that you can always negotiate the lease, especially if there are conditions that seem unreasonable, like charging 2 – 3x the normal rate for cleaning fees.

When You Move In:

Be careful when you move into your new apartment. Furniture and even boxes can cause scratch and cuff marks in the hallways, floors and walls. Many buildings will provide you with padding in the public areas (like elevators and hallways) so make sure you notify them when you’re moving in. For inside your apartment, take the same care. Put padding, like fabric or cardboard on the corners of your furniture.

During your stay, try to keep clean. Mop up stains from food or pets, and don’t let trash pile up. If you’re having a party, ask people to leave their shoes outside or try to keep guests out of rooms with carpets, if possible.

If anything breaks because of normal wear and tear, your landlord should fix it without cost to you. If you do break something by accident, then you need to take care of it yourself. Keep all correspondences and requests in writing.

When You Move Out:
When you’ve moved out your things and furniture, do a good cleaning. If the cleaning deposit is refundable, make sure you clean the place from top to bottom. If it’s not refundable, then just make sure everything is neat and reasonably clean, but your landlord will most likely have someone really scrub the place and get it sparkling clean.

Before you leave and hand over the keys, do the same walk-through with the landlord like you did before you moved in. And if your landlord is trying to bilk you out of your deposit even if you left everything as is, know your rights. Politely, but firmly, ask for the deposit back and have your evidence ready.

You don’t have to become obsessive about keeping your apartment clean to get your deposit back. Just make sure you clean up after yourself, and fix up any damage you cause. And if you do have trouble with a landlord or leasing company, don’t just brush it off. You have rights as a tenant and you should fight for them.