Get your Security Deposit Back with these Tips

by Sam Burgoon on September 28, 2012

Get your security deposit back

You may easily forget how to properly get a security deposit if you rush out of a rental place to move into a new home. With some landlords retaining security deposits or even keeping them after renters have moved out, it’s important for you to know how to get your security deposit back. By following some minor steps while moving in and out of a rental home, getting your security deposit back will be easier and faster.

Things to do Before Moving In

1. Carefully read the lease. You should read and understand all the terms and conditions of a lease before signing it. In addition, you can request changes to be made on leases if you considered that some conditions are not reasonable. You can request changes like adding or omitting terms.

2. Take pictures and document the home’s condition. Do a walk through of the new place and record the condition of the home by making a detailed list with pictures as proof. Even if you get a checklist about the home’s condition from the landlord, make sure to check anything with damage or wear that is not specified.

After you make your own list with pictures, simply ask the landlord to sign your condition report.

Things to do While Living in a Rental Home

1. Keep the home clean. Many landlords restrict pets because some tenants just don’t clean after their pets. If you have a pet, make sure to clean your home accordingly. If you keep a rental home clean, you won’t have to pay for damages above normal usage.

2. Maintain the rental unit in good working order. If repairs are needed, inform the landlord to make the necessary arrangements. Don’t delay necessary repairs, which can become harder and pricier to fix over time.

Things to do After Moving Out

1. Know your rights. If you get a bill from a landlord with your security deposit being withheld, defend yourself by knowing your rights. Since states differ on rental laws, check your state’s Attorney General information to learn about renter protection and rights.

2. Know how to complain. Complaints about a landlord withholding security deposits should be written in a letter with copies sent to a legal representative, even if no lawyer is to be hired. Just by having a law firm’s name in a letter, landlords might reconsider given you the security deposit back.

3. Claims court procedure. Small claims court should be used as a last resort, after all else fails. Just let the landlord know about your intentions to take your case to court. Who knows? The landlord might simply give you the security deposit back to avoid the legal hassle.

Security deposits are meant to cover repairs that go beyond normal wear and tear by tenants. It’s simply a way for landlords to have some protection on their rental property. Just return rental homes in proper conditions so that landlords don’t have any legal reasons to retain your security deposit.

Photo: Quazie


Sam Burgoon is a social media marketing executive for several personal finance websites. He has a degree in business administration and marketing and has previously worked for companies like Bank of America and Oracle.