How to Get Your Security Deposit Back When Moving Out

Beginner’s Guide to Moving Out the Right Way

Putting a security deposit down on a rental property is a necessary step, and usually ends up being a rather big chunk of change. Although many think that getting your security deposit back at the end of a lease is a lost cause, there are a few things you can do to guarantee getting a full reimbursement.

Document damages when you move it

The key to getting your full security deposit back is to be proactive when you first move into the rental unit. Make sure to do a “Move-In” inspection and flag any concerns you see right away. If there are major issues, a landlord will usually take care of them, but it is still important to make sure you cover all of your bases. When documenting your findings, make sure to:

  • Go through the home and document any damages
    • Feel free to write down all items no matter how small
  • Let your landlord know that the damages already exist
    • Go through the home and let the landlord know about all of the issues in a timely manner
  • Take pictures of the damages
    • As you go through the home, make sure to take pictures of the existing damages. This visual documentation will help you during the move-out process.

Want to learn more about a “move-in” inspection? Take a look at the following blog:

Give your landlord notice that you are moving out

While lease terminations differ from state to state, it is best practice to give at least a 30-day notice when you want to vacate a rental home. Most tenants move out when their lease expires, but there may be other factors at play when moving out of a rental property. Make sure to read over the terms and conditions of the lease before you notify your landlord of your desire to vacate the property.

Review your lease before moving out

Reading your lease and understanding the document is one of the best ways to get your security deposit back in full. Yes, it sounds simple, but a lease can be fairly long and often outlines a lot of information that can be confusing. A helpful hint is to take the necessary time to review your lease before you even sign on the dotted line.

  • Know what the lease is saying
  • Understand your responsibilities as a tenant
  • Better understand what is needed when you move out of the property
  • Address any questions you have before you move in

Once you are aware of what is expected of you and what needs to be done (as defined by the lease), the document ends up being rather helpful to both the tenant and the landlord.

Repair any damages

It is understandable that your rental unit will have general wear and tear from you living it in over an extended period of time. However, it is still your responsibility to fix all damages done to the property that go beyond the norm. Make sure to give your rental property a good look over before you complete the final inspection. Here are some things to consider:

  • Patch holes and dents in the wall
  • Clean off scuffs (wall, floors, and floorboards)
  • Paint rooms back to the original color
  • Fix any broken fixtures and lights
  • Address any stains on the carpet

Clean the home

Another way to get your full security deposit back is to make sure that you clean the home thoroughly! Scrub and scrub and then scrub some more.

  • Vacuum the carpet (some landlords may want you to professionally clean the carpets)
  • Clean bathrooms (sinks, showers, floors, wipe down walls)
  • Clean the kitchen and all appliances (don’t leave food behind)
  • Wipe down windows, ledges, and any space that can collect dust
  • Don’t forget about outside space as well (porch, deck, outside storage)

Remember, no one wants to move into an apartment that is dirty, so leave the rental property as clean as you would want it to be!

Don’t leave anything behind

Remember to take everything with you! Don’t leave your unwanted items behind because that will provide a good enough reason for the landlord to not give you the security deposit back in full. Check and double-check that the rental property and storage units have been completely emptied.

Complete a final move-out inspection

When you are finally ready to vacate the rental property, make sure to complete a final “move-out” inspection with your landlord. During the inspection, make sure to point out things that you have done to clean and maintain the property, also note any items that were damaged before you moved into the unit. Remember that “Move-In” inspection and the pictures you took, now is the time to remind your landlord of the condition of the rental before you moved in!

Want to learn more about a move-out inspection, take a look at the following blog:

Follow Up

If there are any issues with the final move-out inspection, or you have waited more than 30 days to get your security deposit, follow up ASAP. It is best to be proactive when it comes to your security deposit and take the necessary steps to get your money back. Do not feel intimidated to make contact with your landlord. Remember, the security deposit is rightly your money if you have taken all the necessary steps to leave the rental home in great condition.

Not sure you want to deal with the move-out process as a landlord?

At Oak City Properties, we make sure to work with you each step of the way when renting out your property. Our full management property service does everything from marketing the property to dealing with 24/7 maintenance concerns. At Oak City Properties, we also help with the “move-in” and “move-out” process. If you are interested in learning more, give us a call at (919)-232-9222 or check out our website.