How to get your security deposit back when moving out


If you are planning to move out, you will typically want your security deposit back. It can be a significant amount of money you may want to use elsewhere. In theory, this process should be simple enough, without any complexities and troubles. But, in reality, the landlord may decide to keep a part or even the entire deposit to himself. Whether it’s for a reason or just turning a deaf ear on you, you need to know what to do in such a situation. You will have to take some steps to get your security deposit back when moving out.

Steps to take when moving out to ensure you get your security deposit back

On the bright side, most landlords will be more than happy to return you the full deposit back despite the popular beliefs. This spares them from having to deal with repairs, cleaning, and other unpleasantries themselves. However, there are situations when it simply doesn’t turn out that way. If you are in doubt, here is the list of necessary steps you should take to ensure you are entitled to getting the deposit back:

  1. Carefully check your leasing contract
  2. Evaluate the current condition before moving
  3. Don’t fail to give timely notice of departure
  4. Repair all the damage before leaving
  5. Completely clean the place
  6. Proceed with final inspection
  7. Call your landlord to inspect the place
  8. Return all the keys
  9. Familiarize with tenant rights
  1. Carefully check your leasing contract

Basically, if you want your deposit back, make sure you didn’t break any rules. You can do this by reviewing your contract in detail, including your renting insurance. In the majority of leasing contracts, there will be clauses explaining all the requirements for deposit returns. They explain at what conditions the landlord is entitled to keep the deposit. But also all the obligations the tenant has to comply with before leaving the place. It also includes information regarding repairs, inspection, proper notice, and so on.

  1. Evaluate the current condition before moving

This is the time you take out all those pictures you took when you moved in. It is more of a precaution, but it is good to know every time you are moving into a new place. Before you find assistance on the internet and bring all your belongings in, always ask your landlord to inspect the place first. Closely examine the entire place and take photos, so you have something to compare it with when moving out. It includes corners, walls, closets, installations, furniture, and many other things. The place has to be in exactly the same condition as when you first arrived to make sure you will get your security deposit back.

  1. Don’t fail to give timely notice of departure

You will have to notify your landlord you are leaving at least 30 days upfront in most cases. This is not necessarily the same in every state, but it’s usually about one month before. For this reason, read all the documentation to be sure you are not breaking any terms. If you fail to notify the landlord on time, you may end up paying another month’s rent. Also, don’t forget to mention your new address. And by all means, don’t forget to remind them about your security deposit in writing. In some countries, it’s legally required to ask for a deposit return.

  1. Repair all the damage before leaving

After sending the notification, make sure to repair all the damage. If there is something damaged or broken, you will need to fix it to avoid giving the landlord a reason to reduce your deposit. In extreme cases, you might need to renovate the home, but it’s rare. The ordinary repairs may include:

  • Patching small holes in walls.
  • Repainting the entire place or part of it.
  • Checking the electrical installations, devices, sensors, and lightbulbs.
  • Small repairs of kitchen appliances
  • Necessary corrections in your bathroom
  • and so on.

If possible, you can do the majority of the repairs on your own. If not, make sure to get professionals for more serious repairs. Again, take photos of everything once you are done.

Painting a wall to ensure to get your security deposit back when moving out
Get proper help if you can’t fix things on your own
  1. Completely clean the place

Before you leave the place, you will have to clean it thoroughly. In most cases, it will be necessary to organize deep cleaning. Not only before you go, but also once you take all your belongings out. Cover everything from top to bottom to be sure you haven’t skipped anything. From regular dusting to cleaning every small corner and appliance in detail, this will ensure the landlord won’t have any negative remarks.

The spotless and attractive kitchen
Pay special attention to kitchen appliances when cleaning
  1. Proceed with final inspection

To be sure you are leaving everything as you should, make one final inspection by yourself. Check every room and every surface to ensure you didn’t leave something out. Do this before you call the landlord for review because it will give you more time if you have missed something. This final inspection is also good to check if you have forgotten to take something with you. If you move out but leave a piece of furniture, the costs of getting rid of it can be deducted from your deposit. And pay special attention to storage space and cabinets.

  1. Call your landlord to inspect the place

Only when you are absolutely sure you did everything right call your landlord for inspection. Make sure you have all the photos with you just in case. If the landlord has some additional demands, you will still have time to deal with them. Of course, those demands should be within the contract. If there are no further demands, discuss the details about your security deposit return.

  1. Return all the keys

After you are completely out, return your landlord all the keys, from the master key to mailbox keys. Don’t forget to do it because you may force the landlord to change all the locks. And this, of course, will cost you the money. In case you have misplaced some keys, notify your landlord. You can either offer him to pay for a replacement or to let him deduct it from the security deposit. Just be honest and don’t conceal this information because someone will live in that same place after you.

A set of home keys on a palm
Don’t lose any keys, or you will have to pay for the replacement
  1. Familiarize with tenant rights

Both tenants and landlords have their rights. It’s different in every state, so it’s best to check some online resources about it. They are also an excellent place to get familiar with other laws regarding renting. All in order to prevent misuse of your landlord’s rights. If someone is trying to withhold your deposit illegally, you will know where to go for help. For example, in some countries, landlords are obliged to return the deposit within 30 days. Those who violate renting laws may even face heavy penalties.

In the majority of cases, tenants don’t have any problems with landlords. But, there are situations where people experience great struggle when trying to get their money back. However, you will know how to get your security deposit back when moving out by knowing all your obligations and rights. Eventually, if the situation gets out of control, you can always seek justice in court.

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