Ways to get your security deposit back

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Tenants often have trouble getting their deposit back. Here are sure-fire ways to ensure your landlord gives your security deposit back easily with no altercations.

Getting security deposit back

You are ready to move. Your new house is all set and you are excited to relocate to a better and more comfortable place.

Life is good. Or rather, it was great until you called your almost ex-landlord, only to hear that you will not get your security deposit back.

The sad fact is that you are not alone.

Horror stories of renters having nasty disagreements with landlords over their security deposit return are not uncommon. Actually, if you are not part of the statistics, high chances are you know someone who has had a gruesome experience getting a security deposit back.

Slumlords exist. However, even good landlords may withhold a tenant’s deposit for various reasons. Some of them include but are not limited to house damages, rent arrears, and breach of contract.

How to get a security deposit back

Moving from a rental apartment into a new house is nothing short of stressful. It is financially draining, but getting your deposit back can help alleviate a good deal of that stress.

So how do you do that?

In this article, we share tips on how to get security deposits back even after several years of tenancy.

Let us delve into specifics.

  • Be conscious of the terms in your lease

Okay, everyone knows how long legal documents are hard to read. They are demoralizing at first glance. However, the importance of reading and understanding the terms of the contractual agreement cannot be overemphasized.

Unfortunately, a majority of people’s first impulse is to sign the lease without reading through it.

The legal language that is sometimes hard to interpret may put off some people. If reading a tenancy agreement word for word is not your cup of tea, a lawyer comes in handy — preferably one who is conversant with real estate law. Asking your landlord to explain its contents is another viable option to aid in getting your security deposit back.

By going through this important document, you understand your responsibilities and those of the landlord. You also gain in-depth knowledge of the details regarding the deposit, property, utility fees, and other things like pet policies.

Considering that lease agreements are enforceable by the law, having such information at your fingertips helps prevent possible yet avoidable scuffles with your landlord. It also protects you in case of a breach of contract. To help you get your money without unnecessary difficulties, make sure you keep a copy of the same.

  • Schedule an inspection

Before moving into your new home, conduct a house inspection, preferably with your landlord. Examine it thoroughly and look for damages, including signs of wear and tear.

First, look at the paint job to see how well it is done (or not). Faucets, drainage pipes, lights, and sinks are a few of the many things you also need to inspect. Do not forget to check whether the doors, windows, fans, HVAC, and other appliances are in great working condition.

Be sure to document everything. If you intend to have your deposit back, never forget this.

In case the landlord is not available to accompany you for the inspection, take pictures and short videos. Make sure you send them the photos and keep copies of the same.

  • Be a good tenant

Most times, people are quick to label landlords ‘villains’ in lease agreements gone wrong. As much as some landlords are simply bad news, tenants may also have a huge role to play in such fallouts.

To ensure you get your deposit money back, being a great tenant is imperative.

For starters, obey all the house rules, especially noise restrictions. In case you need to throw a party, communicate the same beforehand.

Take care of the house as if it were your own. Clean it regularly and take care of damages as soon as they happen. Being respectful to your landlord goes a long way in forging a peaceful relationship. Do not be surprised when they reward you by letting the little things slide and sending your deposit back.

  • Always ask before renovating

It is highly unlikely that you will find a rental house that fully lives up to your expectations. Whether you prefer a bolder living room color, want to add a few kitchen cabinets, or replace a faulty appliance, go back to your lease to see the acceptable renovations.

Most landlords are opposed to major renovations. Renovating without consent is one of the most common reasons why you might not receive part or all your deposit back. As such, it is essential to always seek their approval before making any changes to the apartment. Landlords are always looking to offer quality housing. As such, they will be open to upgrades as long as they are cost-effective and keep the apartment appealing to other tenants.

If you are in luck and your landlord approves the renovations, ask them to recommend the right person for the job. Also, take pictures of the ongoing project up until completion. Use texts or Emails for communication to remind the house owner that they gave you the go-ahead in case they forgot.

  • Give proper notice before leaving

Hooray, you are finally a homeowner or have found this perfect big apartment for you and your family. To avoid losing part of or the entire deposit, give the landlord proper prior notice.

Again, revisit your lease agreement to learn more about the moving out policy. Some landlords need a one-month notice prior to moving out, with others asking for more notice. Failure to do so, the landlord might deduct a month’s rent or hold on to your deposit for a month or so.

  • Clean the apartment before moving

House cleaning fees are the most common deductions on deposits. Some landlords will specify these charges in the agreement. If there is no specific clause dedicated to house-cleaning fees, be warned. Some landlords may deduct outrageous amounts; an avoidable circumstance if only you clean the apartment before leaving.

For these reasons, deep cleaning the house before moving is of paramount importance. Ensure the carpets, cabinets, floors, walls, and working tables are spotless. If it is too much work, hire a professional cleaning company. That way, you can be sure the house will be sparkling; maybe even better than you found it, which does not hurt your chances of getting your deposit back.

Do not forget to take pictures that will show you left the house in good condition. These especially come in handy when you expect the landlord to refund the money placed as a deposit.

  • Do another inspection

Remember what you did before moving in? Doing another inspection before you relocate is vital in helping you get your deposit back.

Allow the landlord to inspect the apartment’s interiors and exterior. In case of a claim, pull out photos you took before you moved in. This is particularly important if the house is under an agent, as high chances are they will have a different person inspect the house before you move out.

One last walkthrough allows the house owner to check for damages. If there aren’t any, it significantly improves the chances of getting the deposit back.

If you were wondering how to get your security deposit back, here are your answers.

However, we can all agree there are mean landlords out there who will wrongfully deny your deposit back….

These landlords will illegally withhold your deposit despite doing all the things mentioned above. When it comes down to this, knowing your rights is crucial.

Every state has its unique set of laws to protect a tenant against the wrongful withholding of their security deposit. Embedded into these laws are policies that address other deposit related-issues. For instance, there are regulations regarding the amount of money a landlord should deduct in certain circumstances. Besides, the law states the deadlines at which landlords should give tenants their deposit back. Failure to do so can be grounds for filing a lawsuit to get your deposit back but always check with a lawyer first before you engage in any legal matters.


Vlad graduated from National Technical University “Dnipro Polytechnic” in Ukraine. He joined PocketGuard in April 2021 as a customer support manager with strong communicative skills. Vlad is respons...

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