It’s move-out time and you’re strapped for cash. Getting a nice chunk of your security deposit back sure would help. Review these 7 tips below and you’ll be well on your way to recouping a large portion of your deposit.

  1. Read your Lease – Most likely it will have a section related to your deposit. If it doesn’t, ask your landlord to describe the security deposit process. Definitely ask if there are any automatic expenses taken out (painting, carpet cleaning, etc).
  2. Better Safe than Sorry with the Move-in Inspection - Your leasing professional will do a short move-in inspection with you; noting any pre-existing conditions & damages. Get a copy of this inspection. Also ask the leasing professional about the process for documenting any additional pre-existing conditions. Generally you’ll have a week or two to note additional pre-existing damages. When adding these additional notes, be detailed. Taking pictures of any damages is also helpful in case there is a dispute later. You should deliver the notes in writing & the pictures to the leasing office (keep copies for yourself).
  3. Take care of your apartment – The best way to ensure you’ll get a big chunk of your security deposit check back, is to take care of your apartment. Here’s a couple quick tips
    • Clean your apartment more than once – if you go 12 months then expect to get it spotless in a day, you’ll be disappointed.
    • The less damage you do to the walls the better – painting is super expensive – if you can avoid putting holes in the walls and massive scuffs, you’ll be doing yourself a big favor.
    • Don’t burn anything – Smoking, candle burning, cooking with grease a lot, etc will damage your apartment.
  1. Get your maintenance issues fixed as soon as you notice them – Once you take possession of your home, you’re responsible for making sure it remains in good condition. I’m not saying you have to brush up on your plumbing or electrical skills, but you do need to be aware of issues in your home. If there is a maintenance issue, the only way your landlord will find out is if you tell them. So if you have a leak and it’s damaging your cabinets or floor, let your landlord know asap. If you don’t alert them of your maintenance issues, your non action can be considered negligence and you’ll very likely be responsible for the expense to get it fixed.
  2. Trying to make repairs yourself can make things worse – Before you move out you’ll be tempted to fix things that you have damaged in your home throughout the term of the lease. Unless you know how to properly make a repair, you’re better off leaving it alone. At Renaissance Rentals, we commonly see this with nail hole repairs. Most residents do not know how to properly fill and sand a hole. By doing it wrong it creates more work for maintenance, leading to a higher expense for you.
  3. Don’t try to trick your landlord – They’ve seen it all before – taped blind slats, taped drywall tears, removed broken light fixtures/smoke detectors, etc. Most professional landlords will find the damages you are trying to hide. Trying to deceive your landlord will not do you any favors when it comes to your security deposit.
  4. Be present at the move-out inspection – I’ve heard of very few situations in which landlords made stuff up on a move-out inspection. Unless you have a true slumlord, that should not be a worry. If you’re present at the inspection, it’s possible they might not be as thorough though. As you did with the move-in, get a copy of the move-out inspection and take pictures.
  5. Be nice – You’d like to think the security deposit process is completely objective. but like anything that involves people making choices and decisions there is subjectivity. If the landlord is debating whether or not to charge an expense against your security deposit, it’s likely your relationship with them will make a difference. You will always attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

Good luck as you prepare for your move-out. If you have questions or other tips, feel free to leave comments below.