A Step-by-Step Guide for Moving Out of a Rental and Getting Back Your Security Deposit

When you live in a rented or leased apartment or home, getting your security deposit back can be one of your biggest concerns when you decide to move. 

The average price that a renter will pay for a security deposit is one to two times the cost of one month’s rent. Therefore, you could be anticipating a fair amount of money that you could use toward paying for your move. Here are a few tips, so you can get your security deposit back once you make your residential move.

1. Go over your rental/lease agreement.

Hopefully, you retained a copy of your lease and a receipt for your security deposit when you moved in. Go ahead and retrieve these documents and take a look at your lease agreement. Find out what stipulations are given in the contract that could affect the portion of your deposit returned. Most property owners will clearly state in the lease what actions could affect the return of your security deposit.

2. Be sure to give the property owner adequate notice.

Giving your landlord a notice allows them to prepare for you to leave the property. Most property owners will prefer a 30-day notice before you plan to vacate, but even earlier is better. Remember that some landlords will keep a portion or all of your security deposit if you don’t give proper notice.

3. Tend to any damages you may have caused during your occupancy.

Your landlord can keep portions of your security deposit to pay for any damages you may have caused, but this can apply to even minor damages, such as:

  • Missing electrical outlet covers
  • Broken toilet seat
  • Crayon marks on walls/flooring
  • Missing cabinet handles
  • Broken glass in a window

Repair any damages you may have caused, even the small ones, before you move.

4. Remove all of your personal belongings.

As you are packing and preparing to leave the premises, be sure you gather all of your belongings. Some landlords will specifically charge you if they have to hire someone to remove the personal belongings from the house after you leave. Junk removal can also be detracted from your security deposit. A few pointers to remember:

  • Take care of all trash on the property
  • Avoid leaving anything inside cabinets or closets
  • Check the garage for tools or other objects
  • Clear out the basement, attic, cellar, or any outbuildings on the property

5. Clean the property.

If you leave the property in disarray, the landlord can keep your security deposit to cover the costs of cleaning the property. Therefore, pencil time into your schedule to ensure you place a good cleaning before you go.

6. Gather proof of the property’s condition.

You may have taken pictures of the property when you moved in. Retake pictures now that you have cleared and cleaned the property. You can show these images to the landlord to document the condition at the time of move-in and move-out —  in the event there are disagreements about any damage you may have caused.

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