How to Make Sure You Get Your Security Deposit Back

Renters have quite a bit to consider when choosing an apartment or home, including how much of a security deposit the landlord or property management company requires. Security deposits vary and may be as much as a months’ rent, or as little as a nominal fee. Ideally, the deposit protects the owner against damage caused by the renter. However, following these simple tips can help prevent issues or loss of deposits.

The best tips for getting your security deposit back are based on tried and true concepts of temporarily caring for a residence that doesn’t belong to you. Follow these seven tips while renting, and you’ll be more likely to get your renter deposit when it’s time to leave.

  1. Treat Your Rental Unit Kindly

Think of your rental unit as a child entrusted into your care. It wouldn’t be wise to neglect it, would it? The same is true for your temporary home.

Although cleaning floors, scrubbing bathrooms and dusting windowsills pales in comparison with other fun activities, these actions will keep the property looking great. Plus, you’ll know immediately if anything is wrong, and can alert the landlord or property manager promptly.

Don’t allow yourself to kick back and put off regular maintenance. The result could be a problem, from rodent infestation or forgetting to take out the garbage to those types of issues that can escalate quickly, causing you to face the loss of your renter’s deposit.

  1. Repair Damages You Make

If you cause minor damages, such as nicking the walls trying to bring in a sofa or kitchen table, you may be out of luck unless you repair them yourself. You can also pay someone else to make the repairs, provided the repairs restore the property.

Always keep detailed notes on when you made your repairs and how much they cost. Save the receipts, too. This will help you illustrate your commitment to keeping the apartment or home looking and functioning well under your care.

  1. Call the Landlord for the Big Stuff

What happens when you experience major damages? Call the landlord or property management company immediately. Most property owners provide a maintenance contact or staff that can be reached quickly. 

If you keep putting off contacting someone, the issue won’t go away. In some cases, it might get bigger. Additionally, you’ll have a tough time explaining why you hesitating to reach out for help when it comes time to move out.

  1. Stay Within the Boundaries of the Lease

A rental lease isn’t the most thrilling read, but be sure to thoroughly look through the agreement so you are aware of what is expected during the rental term.

No pets means no pets, including the pets of your visiting friends or relatives. When you’re moving out, your landlord will notice if the place smells like you had a cat, dog or other pet on the premises. The same goes for smoking indoors.

It’s best to always stay within the boundaries of your lease. If you have questions about something, ask. Why risk losing your security deposit because you failed to read the entirety of the lease?

  1. Know How Much Notice to Give Before Leaving

Your lease will include a minimal timeframe required for getting out of the contract. Unless you want to lose your renter’s deposit, make plans to contact your landlord as soon as you know you’ll be moving away.

Leases vary from state to state and landlord to landlord, so even if you’ve rented before, don’t assume the timeframe is the same.

  1. Take Before and After Photos Upon Moving in and Out

Before you move into your new apartment or house, photograph and record detailed images. Then, upload them to a document on your computer. When your lease is up or you are moving out, take photos of the rooms and areas similar to the ones taken when you moved in.

Be sure to look for discrepancies between the before and after pictures, especially if those discrepancies are items you should fix before you hand back the keys.

  1. Conduct an Inspection Before Your Landlord Does

When you’re moving out, do a walk-through with a trusted friend and look at the rental through a landlord’s eyes. Do you notice anything amiss? Something that he or she might feel warranted keeping your security deposit?

This gives you a final chance to address potential problems that could lead your landlord or property manager to feel you didn’t live up to your end of the bargain.

When Should You Expect Your Security Deposit Back?

After following these tips and talking to your landlord, your rental unit should be in tiptop condition, and you should check the lease for a deadline on when to expect your security deposit. Again, this will depend on many factors, including state and local laws.

If you don’t receive your security deposit or an acceptable reason from your landlord, you may have to consider filing in small claims court. Although that’s last resort, it’s part of your rights as a renter. However, be assured that most practical, pragmatic and responsible renters will never have to take that step.

If you’ve recently moved into your new place and need furniture, check out the rental options at Interior Furniture Resources. Contact us for more information.