The Truth About Security Deposits

“How do I get my security deposit back from my landlord?” It’s a question we frequently hear.

There’s a common misconception among tenants that landlords want to keep your security deposit. This is largely untrue. If a landlord retains a deposit, it is to repair damage. The money is spent on the necessary repairs, and there is no financial gain to the landlord. In fact, the time involved to repair or coordinate repairs is also substantial. So, believe me when I say, most landlords do not want your deposit. They want you to take good care of your rental home.

It’s important to recognize, too, that your care of the property spans the entire time you live in the home, not just when you vacate. So, be careful. If something spills, wipe it up. If something breaks, call for maintenance help. Live in your home. Hang a photo, but don’t make 100 nail holes. Have guests, but ensure that they respect your home.

When you are vacating the property, follow these simple steps:

  1. Do not leave furniture, trash, or any items you think the next tenant will use. The home has to be fully cleaned for the next tenant’s arrival and leaving any items behind usually result in a trash removal charge. A landlord can’t assume a tenant wants to inherit the prior tenant’s used items.
  2. Clean your unit. Clean the bathroom, the kitchen, the baseboards, and the floors. No one expects it to be pristine, but it should be evident you put effort into providing the unit with a wipe down.
  3. Spackle the nail holes you’ve made, but only if you can do it well. If you are an amateur at spackling, it’s better to leave it. Or, better yet, just use command hooks when you hang items initially.
  4. Attend a move out inspection with your landlord so everyone is on the same page. Transparency is key, and a move out inspection ensures you see what your landlord sees. This also gives you the ability to ask questions during this process.
  5. Provide your forwarding address. You’d be surprised at how often landlords or management companies have to track this information down.

By completing these steps, you are well on your way to ensuring the return of your security deposit, AND a reference from your landlord for your future housing needs.

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