15 Tips to Get Your Security Deposit Back


Moving out is fun, exciting, and can be a great way for you to start fresh and re-organize. Leaving your old place behind is a sign of moving on, and a sign of a fresh transition. However, it’s important to know that before you move out, you need to completely clean the old place you were coming from, figuratively and literally.

When moving in somewhere, you will usually have to put down a security deposit. If you’re young and new to the moving process, a security deposit is a sum of money you put down to ensure any damages to your apartment or rented home will be covered.

The typical security deposit is equal to one month’s rent. This includes breaks to oval duct fittings, chips on your painted wall, dented doors, and any of the other myriad of damages that can occur to your rented home. When you move out, you will be given an inspection to ensure that everything in your apartment is in working order before you get back this sum of money. Unfortunately, more often than not, you won’t get back the full amount. This is because people are in such a rush to move out, they don’t bother to stay behind and clean their apartment in order to get back their entire security deposit.

Why Clean?

Cleaning your apartment before you move will not only give you peace of mind in knowing nothing was left behind, but will also ensure that you take every opportunity to get your money back. Many times, a five-dollar-fix turns into a 50 dollar fix when your landlord takes things into their own hands. Spend the time to look over these 15 tips to ensure you get your security deposit back in full. In addition, these 15 tips will help you look out for commonly gone-over areas and also ensure you take care of these even before you move out. Don’t you want to start off fresh with a little bit of your own cash in your pocket?

1. Do a Thorough Pre-Rent Inspection

As mentioned earlier, it’s very easy to get excited when renting and moving out to a new apartment or home. This is why it’s very easy for us to simply sign off an inspection sheet without looking it over thoroughly. This is a huge mistake, as making sure your inspection sheet is properly done can help you get your security deposit back later on when moving out. Take notes, take your own camera and take pictures, and asks for copies of all paperwork during an inspection. This ensure that a pre-existing damaged part of the home is documented and is known to not be your fault. In addition, move any frames or posters on the wall that may be covering damage, open all drawers, cabinets, closets, and ensure all windows and doors are in working order. These areas are easy to hide damage in.

2. Dust your Home Every Week

While you’re still living at home, it’s important to dust your home every week to get your security deposit back. Not only is dusting your home a great way to prevent allergies, but it’s also a good way to keep your walls, kitchen, bathroom, and ceiling fans clean from piled on dust. This dust is harder to remove as it piles on, oils from everyday are added on, and it slowly turns into gunk. Dusting just once every three to five days can do wonders for helping you get your security deposit back.

3. Leave your Bathroom Window Open

It’s always a good idea to rent a space that has a window in the bathroom. This is because mildew and mold can easily accumulate in your bathroom as hot steam covers it. Without a window, it’s very difficult to air out all this extra moisture and prevent mildew build-up. If you have a window, make sure to leave it open and air out your restroom. Clean up any mildew as soon as you see it accumulate in your restroom, bathroom tiles, and bathtub to make it easier to clean. You’ll also want to use products such as bleach and Ajax to tackle difficult bathroom stains.

4. Space out your Furniture

Over long periods of time, your furniture can begin to cause damage on your rented home that might go unnoticed and prevent you from getting your security deposit back. A desk that is constantly hitting the wall, a bed frame that is constantly hitting your bedroom closet, and any sort of home office furniture that is always hitting certain areas of your apartment can all cause damage. It’s better to ensure you have enough space between all your furniture to ensure you will not damage the walls of your home.

5. Buy Moving Pads

Whether moving in or moving out, it’s important to having moving pads while moving your furniture in and out. Consider this also when conducting appliance repair, and having movers come in to remove heavier items like refrigerators and stoves. Moving pads can come in the form of mats, or even stick-on velcro pads that go on the legs of beds, chairs, and tables. Moving pads will prevent your floor from being damaged over-time, and also for heavy moves. It can be expensive to replace your flooring, so making sure your laminate, wood, or tile flooring remains protected is essential to get your security deposit back.

6. Clean your Carpet

Laminate, wood, and tile floor is not the only flooring that can be damaged. Carpeting is very easy to ignore, especially when spills and other dirt and debris are left unnoticeable. Not only is leaving your carpet dirty unsanitary, it’s also very harmful in the long run, as stains, dirt, and debris all lead your carpet to become impossible to clean and have to be replaced. Don’t just vacuum and wash your carpet, however. Look out for signs of wear on the edges of carpeting, such as fraying, unwinding, and splitting of carpet hairs. Having pets that love to scratch at the edges of your carpet can speed up this fraying process even more. However, a good tip is to let your landlord know about your carpet and see if they can replace it for free before you move out. Many time, new carpeting isn’t installed into an apartment, and so you have a good reason to get it replaced for free before moving out instead of footing the bill.

7. Inspect Your Drawers

One of the easier things to overlook are your drawers. After years and many times opening and closing a drawer, it can be easy to forget that these pieces of furniture experience the most wear and tear. It’s a good idea to remove drawers entirely, as sometimes items can fall in between drawers and cabinets and stay trapped inside.

Keep an eye out for fashion jewelry, important documents, or other items that could have fallen in between. Also, it’s a good idea to replace any knobs that look faulty, or buy a small can or sample of paint and paint your drawers yourself. This is always a better option than having to have money taken out before you get your security deposit back to repair them.

8. Check Window Blinds

Window blinds are pesky items that can break down over time. Window blinds are subject to cracking, dust build-up, damage and loss of color due to weather, and even can be entirely damaged if you have pets that love to jump on them. Window blinds should be dusted as part of your routine home maintenance, and you should always open them with care. If it’s easier, invest in curtains to keep your blinds to a minimal use and get your security deposit back without having to spend money to repair them.

9. Contact Plumbing

Contacting a local plumber to routinely inspect and fix problems in your home is essential, and probably one of the best ways to ensure you get your security deposit back. As mentioned earlier, sometimes problems can come with a home unknowingly to you. During your inspection, check to make sure your toilet and all drains are working. In particular, chains that are responsible for making a toilet flush are important to maintain in working order. These flushing chains rust very easily and over time, so it’s important to contact your landlord and get these issues in order before moving out.

10. Don’t Smoke Indoors

Smoking is not only bad for your health, but it’s also incredibly damaging to your home. Smoke can get into air ducts, forcing you to pay for AC duct cleaning, and can get into the deepest parts of your walls and curtains. It’s important to remain in a smoke-free home to ensure you don’t have to pay out for expensive repairs and get your security deposit back in full.

11. Hire Professionals for Painting

Many rentals now have the option of customizing paint. If your service agreement says you can paint your home, so long as there is no lead and it is approved by your manager or landlord, don’t go wild just yet. Though smaller paint jobs might be doable for touch-ups, it’s always best to hire professional painters to decorate your apartment and do as minimal damage as possible. Professional painters will also help you in answering any questions you might have about re-doing your walls later on in accordance to your service agreement. Get professional help for your painting projects, and be secure in knowing that your newly painted walls were done the right way.

12. Avoid Putting Hair in Drains

It sounds silly and so common sense, but ensuring your drains remain clear of hair can be harder than you think. From shaving over the bathroom sink to having pets that shed, it’s better to be safe than sorry when dealing with hair in your bathroom sink. Drain line repair can be costly if you end up damaging your drain over time and you can be sure this will cost you some of your security deposit.

13. Maintain your Garden

The garden of your home is also part of your rental property, so before starting a new flowering bed, or another type of nursery, it’s important to get your landlord’s approval beforehand. Any damage you might cause to the soil or the look of the garden itself might be subject to your security deposit. Get your security deposit back without having to spend on this somewhat overlooked area of your rental home.

14. Repair Damage Done to Your Garage

Whether you accidentally rammed your car into your garage, had a paint spill or other carpeting accident, it’s important to also repair damage done to your garage. This can be costly, as repairing a garage door can be somewhat expensive, especially when electrical components are involved. Ensure that outside shed, play, and garage areas are thoroughly clean before leaving your home.

15. Repair Door Locks

If you lose a key to your apartment, don’t think this can be easily hidden away. Sometimes, landlords might go so far as having the key not only to your apartment replaced, but also the key to the apartment complex’s gate if that was lost too. Both of these can be costly, so it’s better to be vigilant about your keys. Before moving out, ensure your door locks are also working properly. This can be as easy as replacing loose door handles with a power drill and local lock supplies.

Move Forward

As you can see from this list, there are many little things that need to be taken care of before you get in touch with local moving companies. Not only will taking care of these things give you peace of mind that nothing is being left behind, but it will also ensure that you get your security deposit back in full and put it to something useful (like to decorate your new apartment). Have fun, stay vigilant, and prioritize these tips.

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