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How to Get Your Security Deposit Back

Published On: August 10, 2020By

Moving can be expensive, so when it comes time to move out, check out our tips for how to get your security deposit back when moving out.

When you first move into a rental property, you’ll likely have to give your landlord a security deposit. Typically, this is not a small chunk of change. When it comes time to move out, getting that money back to assist with moving costs and fees at your new place will be a huge asset. Assuming you take good care of your rental, you are entitled to get your money back at the end of your lease. Below are the best tips for how to get your security deposit back when moving out.

Document Everything

Before you begin moving into your new place, grab your phone and do a video walkthrough of the entire place. Take photos of anything that looks damaged. Document any signs of wear and tear in your new place and send all photos and notes to your landlord so you can them in writing. If you don’t document things when moving in, the landlord will assume you caused the damage, and the cost to fix anything will be taken out of your security deposit after you move out. By documenting everything, you will have proof later on if your management company tries to charge you for it.

Check for things like dents or scratches in countertops or cabinets. Stains or punctures in any walls. Clean, working appliances. Lastly, make sure there are no stains or odors in your carpets.

Report Issues Immediately

As damage or issues with your apartment arise, report them immediately. Preferably, you’ll want to report them in writing so you have documentation that all damage was brought to your landlord’s attention. If you wait to say anything until you move out, you could be hit with surprise fees. Instead, deal with it while you are still on the lease. Most of the time, the landlord will fix the issue at no cost to you.

Ask for Expectations

Well before moving out, ask your landlord in advance what their expectations are of you upon moving out. Some landlords will only require light cleaning while others expect you to hire a cleaning company. If you need to hire a cleaning company, make sure to keep a receipt to submit to your landlord. Ask other questions pertaining to cleaning as well. Will you need to patch any nail holes? Will it need a deep clean? What does your pet deposit cover?

Complete Small Repairs

Most landlords will expect you to make small repairs like replacing light bulbs, unclogging drains, and patching up any nail holes. While these tasks are small, they make a huge difference in what you could be charged for later on. Some landlords may charge you the highest price for light bulbs that you could’ve replaced for half the cost. These small changes will also make the place appear less worn and may result in fewer deductions from your deposit.

Do a Mock Inspection

After you’ve cleaned your home, invite over a friend or two, and have them act as your landlord. Give them a checklist with everything they need to look for in your house. You may be so accustomed to things looking a certain way. Having a fresh set of eyes to give everything a last-minute check will help catch things you would’ve missed.

Move Out the Same Day as Your Roommates

This tip is two-fold. One, you don’t want to have to rely on your roommates to make sure everything if perfectly clean. Your definition of move-out ready and theirs may be vastly different. To ensure you’ve done everything possible to get your security deposit back, plan to move out on the same day. You also don’t want your roommates to move out before you because then you could be stuck with all of the work. For the sake of fairness, try to schedule the same move out day with all roommates so that the work is spread evenly.

Clean Very Thoroughly

In addition to the standard cleaning you do on a weekly basis, get ready to do a serious deep clean of your entire home. Wipe down things like baseboards, walls, doors, and light switches. Scrub out all carpet stains and sprinkle some carpet freshener powder before vacuuming for a clean house scent. Patch up any nail holes and paint over them if necessary. Remove all trash and furniture from your home. Any furniture left after move-out can result in deductions from your deposit. Clean the inside of your appliances, as well as underneath and behind them. Don’t forget to wipe down windows as well.

Research Local Renter Laws

Finally, know your rights. While all landlords and management companies should know the rules and regulations in your state, it’s important that you do too. Research your renter’s rights regarding your security deposit at the city, county, and state levels. To find this information, you can look at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website.


While it may not be possible to completely avoid some deductions to your security deposit, it is important to know the various tips on how to get your security deposit back. Making sure to document everything and cleaning thoroughly when moving out are the two best ways to get your money back. For more tips on moving and enjoying your home, sign up for our once-monthly blog newsletter.