The relationship between the landlord and the tenant is often complicated, especially at the end of the lease. However, it doesn’t have to be the case for you. Most problems stem from misunderstanding rules and not taking precautions. What your landlord expects from you is that you pay the rent on time and leave the rental in the same condition as it was before you moved in. What you want is, of course, to get your security deposit back and move on with your life. With that in mind, we’ve prepared for you this guide on how to ensure you get your security deposit back.

When (or even better before) you move in

Many people make the mistake of not thinking about their security deposit until the time comes for moving out. Maybe you’ll decide that buying a home is better than renting, and you’ll need every dollar. Therefore, to make sure you don’t lose your deposit at the end of the lease, it’s a good idea to take some precautions even before you move in.

Read the lease

Your rental agreement with the landlord contains important information on many things. It should tell you how far in advance you have to notify the landlord on terminating the lease as well as terminating requirements. For example, most leases will have a clause about returning the keys and cleaning the place, and most landlords require a 30-day notice. However, these conditions may vary from state to state. So, to avoid complications later, be familiar with all the requirements from the start.

Inspect all the rooms with your landlord

Before you move your stuff in, check all the rooms, as well as furniture, together with the landlord. During the walk-through, make a list of all the damages you notice and discuss these with the landlord.

Making a detailed list will help you get your security deposit in full at the end of the lease

Making a detailed list will help you get your security deposit in full at the end of the lease

Take photos and have everything in writing

In case your landlord is a sketchy one, it’s good to take some precautionary steps. Take photos of everything in your rental, from walls to the inside of the drawers. If there are any damages, take additional close-ups. Needless to say, the photos should have a date stamp on them. If the landlord promises to make some repairs during your joint inspection, make sure you have it in writing and signed by them. That way, if anything goes wrong, you’ll have valuable evidence.

During the lease

Of course, there are some things to consider during your lease, too. For starters, being friendly and polite with your landlord may go a long way and help you sort out any possible problems in the future. Apart from that, here are a few more things you should pay attention to:

  • consider taking out a renter’s insurance to ensure extra safety of your belongings
  • keep your rental clean – treat it as you would your own home
  • ask the landlord’s permission before making changes (in writing) – of course, you want your rental to feel like home, but you should contact the landlord before painting the walls, making holes in the wall to hang pictures, or making any other modifications
  • inform your landlord of any damage or fix it yourself if possible
  • pay the rent on time – landlords will appreciate this, and it will help you to get the security deposit back when the time comes
  • keep all the important documents, letters and photos in case you need them later
house remodeling in progress, ladders, a door frame

Before you start remodeling, check the lease requirements and get the landlord’s permission

Before moving out

Relocation is often a daunting and stressful task. There are so many things to do when you’re moving to your new home. First, you have to decide whether DIY moving is a good solution for you or it would be better to hire professional movers. Make sure to explore your options on this subject and see what pays off more in your case. Then comes packing and the process of the relocation itself. You definitely don’t need additional problems with the landlord on top of all that. So, here are the things to do when you are ready to move out.

Reread the lease

Read the lease agreement again and check all the requirements. Make sure to notify the landlord on time. If the notice is 30 days, ensure the landlord gets your notification at least 30 days before you move out. If you don’t, you might have to pay another month’s rent, so be careful. It would be a good idea to inform the landlord by letter via certified mail and keep a copy of the letter. That way, you’ll have the proof in case you have to take it to court.

Put everything back the way it was

While rereading your lease, you’ll find important information about terminating requirements. Make sure you follow them through before you move out. For example, you should undo all the changes you’ve made. Paint the walls back in their original color and patch any holes you’ve made during the lease. Check for any damages that weren’t there when you moved in. If there are some, you should take care of them. Of course, you shouldn’t renovate the place completely, just leave it in the same condition as it was before.

Make the place look spotless

Clean, clean, and then clean some more. You don’t want the landlord to keep part of your deposit for paying cleaning services. The best time to clean is when you move out your things. Clean the place from top to bottom – from the lighting fixtures, furniture, windows to the floor. Pay special attention to the kitchen and the bathroom and make them sparkling clean. A clean rental makes it more likely for you to get your full security deposit back.

a woman cleaning the lights in front of the mirror

Make sure your old home is thoroughly clean before you move out

Final tips on how to get your security deposit back

When planning for expenses for your relocation, you want to make the most out of every penny. So there are few more things to do before you finally move out. Make sure you don’t leave any of your things behind because the landlord will have to hire someone to remove them, and it will affect your security deposit.

Also, return the keys, either personally or by post. Lastly, and most importantly, don’t forget to send a request for your security deposit to the landlord. Laws only protect you from losing your security deposit if you request it. Therefore, make sure you’re familiar with tenant’s rights and follow the guidelines in this article to get your security deposit back in full.


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