Renting a home or apartment usually involves paying a hefty security deposit up front when you move in. The landlord protects this deposit and keeps it unless you meet the conditions of the lease. The most effective way to get your security deposit back means keeping your end of the bargain while you’re renting. Here are 7 ways that give you your best shot at getting your full deposit back.
- Take picture when you move in
Always take pictures of your rental property the day you move in. Capture any areas that are damaged or not in great condition the first day you are there. Landlords should not be able to keep your security deposit because of damages on the property that they didn’t fix before you moved in. For example, if there’s a hole in the carpet the day you move in, that’s not your damage, and they can’t penalize you for it by keeping the deposit.
- Read your lease
Read your lease like you’re studying for an exam or trying to read information that will result in a promotion. Your lease is your responsibility, and all the terms of rental are in there clear as day. In order to get our deposit back, you have to follow the terms of that lease to the letter.
Carpet takes some of the most heavy damage over the years, and if your carpet is dirty when you move out, your landlord may attempt to keep your security deposit to cover the costs of cleaning it. Take it upon yourself to clean the carpet! If you do this, you’ll have a much better chance of getting the deposit back. Your best bet is to hire a professional carpet cleaning service that will leave the carpet in the same condition it was in when you moved in (or better condition).
- Give your landlord notice before moving
You can’t just leave when you feel like it. Most leases stipulate that you must tell your landlord 30 days before you move out so that they have time to prepare for your move. They have things they must take care of, too. If you don’t give your landlord proper notice before moving out, they may actually ask you to pay an extra month’s rent. At that point, you may lose the same amount your security deposit is (or more). Read through your lease and always be aware of how much notice your landlord needs before you move.
- Let your landlord review the apartment
Invite your landlord to come into your apartment and let you know if anything needs repaired or cleaned. If you have to take care of those things before you get your security deposit, that gives you an excellent way to know right off the bat if something is wrong and needs repaired. If nothing is wrong, that’s great news.
- Leave it clean
Your rental unit should be as clean as it can possibly be. Cleaning the apartment or home for the landlord is going to make their life, and job, much easier, and they will be in a much better mood. If your landlord is in a much better mood, there’s a greater chance that they’re going to hand you your security deposit back quickly.
- Don’t forget to leave the keys
Your landlord will need their keys back. If there are two copies, make sure that they get both keys back. What you’re doing here is showing your landlord that you’ve been a responsible tenant, and you’re making their life all that much easier.
Following these 7 simple – and not so simple – guidelines will greatly improve your chances of getting your security deposit back. If you have to make a lot of repairs, it’s still okay as long as the repairs don’t total up more than the deposit. Your landlord and you have a legal agreement (your lease) that requires you to live up to those legal requirements. If you read the lease thoroughly, follow it, and keep everything clean and undamaged, you’ll get your security deposit back in most cases.