How to Make Sure You Get Your Rental Deposit Back

| November 2, 2012

Moving into a rental is an expensive undertaking, especially when you factor in costs such as the rental deposit. Keep the following tips in mind to make sure you save your hard-earned money and get your rental deposit returned when you decide to vacate the premises.

Do your own move-in inspectiongetting security deposit back

Be proactive and carefully inspect the apartment or house as soon as you move in, noting any problem areas, such as stains on the carpeting. While making the inspection, take photos. Then send the information to your landlord via registered mail or have him or her sign the inspection form. That way when it’s time to move out, the landlord won’t have you footing the bill for something that happened before you moved in.

Check the fine print

Don’t just blindly sign your lease. Read it carefully and check for charges such as cleaning fees, which are likely to come out of your rental deposit.

Keep detailed records

While you’re living in the rental, keep track of any repairs that are made and who made them. This history will give you critical information if questions arise when it’s time to get your rental deposit back. For instance, if the plumbing backs up while you’re living there and the plumber nicks the bathroom cabinet during repairs, your records will show this and you won’t get dinged for the damage.

Give ample notice

When you decide to move out, it’s important that you check your contract regarding how much notice your landlord requires. Generally, you’ll need to give a 30-day notice or the owner could take part or all of the deposit as rent because you failed to give sufficient notice. Keep a copy of the notice, and send it to the landlord by certified mail with a return receipt requested, as this will be your proof of sufficient notice in case questions arise about the return of your deposit.

Leave things squeaky clean

Give the entire apartment a good scrubbing before you vacate, leaving it cleaner than when you moved in. Sparkly clean conditions are bound to put your landlord in a good frame of mind and may just cause him to overlook a few stains and scratches.

Do a move-out walk-through

If possible, walk through the rental with your landlord after you’ve vacated. If he points out any problem areas, ask for a chance to remedy the issue in order to get all of your rental deposit returned.

Leave an accurate forwarding address

The landlord needs a reliable place to send your rental deposit check. If you’re not sure where you’re moving yet, give him the address of a relative or ask for an electronic deposit.

Ideally, your landlord will happily reimburse you once you move out, but if this doesn’t occur, following these guidelines will help make sure that you get your rental deposit returned.

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Category: Real Estate, Rental Property -- Apartments, Rental Property -- Homes

About the Author ()

Julie Bawden-Davis is a Southern-California-based writer specializing in home and garden, real estate, small business and personal finance. Since 1985, her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Family Circle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, Entrepreneur and The Los Angeles Times. Julie is a University of California Certified Master Gardener and has written five gardening books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening.