4 Tips to Get Your Security Deposit Back

Every renter will have to fork over a security deposit upon move-in with hopes they will see it again someday. But how can you ensure you get that chunk of change back in your account? What if you have messy roommates who refuse to do their part in the move out process, or a slimy landlord who you think is going to try and cheat you out of your money? Your security deposit is refundable, so go and get it! Below are the top four foolproof tips to getting your security deposit back, even from the pickiest of property managers.

#1: Review Necessary Documents Carefully

Your lease is the most important document to you as a tenant and is an important step in figuring out how to get your security deposit back. It will outline exactly what your responsibilities are while living in that unit, and what is expected of you upon move-out. The typical steps will be there, like cleaning up any dirty surfaces and taking out the trash, but make sure you read all addendums and fine print. Some leases will require you to paint the walls back to their original color or clean the floors thoroughly.

You may also receive an inventory and condition formwhen you move into your new rental. This document will ask you to go through your unit and record any existing damage. This could include broken doorknobs, cracks in the wall, or a window that won’t lock. When you move out of the property, your landlord will use this form to go through the space and figure out what is new damage from your stay, and what was already there prior to you moving-in. You don’t want to be charged for something that you didn’t do, so be sure to fill out this form carefully and record everything you consider damaged when you move in.

If your landlord doesn’t provide an inventory and condition form for you, it may be best to download one from the internet and send it to your landlord upon completion. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and now your landlord will have your form on file for when you move-out.

#2: Clean

One of the most important parts of the moving-out process is cleaning up your rental and getting it looking as good as new. Landlords want to see that you treated their property with respect, so taking the time to do a deep clean will convey that message and give you a great shot at getting your security deposit back.

Things you should do before you leave include removing marks and scuffs from the walls, getting any stains up from the carpet, dusting and cleaning any surfaces, and giving all appliances a good wipe down.

A necessary part of the cleaning process is removing anything you brought into the apartment. This includes even the small things that often get overlooked, like hangers, toilet paper, and silverware. Landlords are allowed to charge you for anything they are forced to remove, so take matters into your own hands and double-check that you didn’t leave anything behind.

#3: Schedule a Move-out Inspection

Most landlords will schedule a walk-through a couple weeks before your move-out date to notify you of any major repairs they need to complete before they relist the unit. Even if your landlord doesn’t schedule a walk through on their own, take the extra initiative to request one. Doing so is in your best interest, since you will have a week or two’s notice to fix anything outstanding before moving out and you can feel secure that you’ll get your security deposit back.

Then, make the necessary repairs. Once your landlord has told you what needs to be fixed, do those things. After doing so, you and you landlord will be on the same page about what the unit should look like once you’ve vacated it, and that security deposit will be returned to you.

#4: Take Move-Out Pictures

This step is particularly important if you live with roommates. Although you may leave your room looking fantastic and in-line with your landlord’s expectations, it’s possible that your roommates did not do the same. Be sure to take pictures of your room and send them to your landlord the moment you move out, so you have timestamped evidence of what your space looked like the second you left.


Don’t make moving more stressful than it has to be. To make your move-out process as easy as possible, follow these steps and you can sleep tight knowing your security deposit is on its way to you. 

Related posts