How To Get Your Security Deposit Back

Get your security deposit back-checklist for repairs

If you want to get your security deposit back, take your rental checklist seriously

If you want to get your security deposit back, take the initial rental checklist seriously. Although there is no hard and fast rule about amount of security deposit, it’s usually equal to one month’s rent. So you have quite a large sum of money at stake.

Once you have signed the lease papers, you will have to fill out a rental checklist. The purpose of the list is to document the condition of the apartment. Take this checklist seriously. Because you don’t want to get charged for pre-existing damage when you move out.

Items to look for include:

  • Carpet condition – especially cigarette burns or holes
  • Wall damage- holes or stains
  • Cabinets – scratches, loose or broken hardware
  • Countertops – stains, burns
  • Floor – Stains, burns, damage
  • Windows – broken panes, broken latches
  • Doors – Scratches, broken handles, broken locks
  • Window coverings – tears, stains, broken blinds
  • Pet damage and pet odors
  • Appliances – rust, scratches, make sure all knobs are working, dishwasher racks should be in good condition.

In addition, take pictures of anything you noted on the checklist. This can help you prove the condition of the apartment in case of a deposit dispute.

Condition at move out

When you move out, the apartment needs to be clean. Also, be sure to remove all trash. And don’t leave anything behind. Lastly, return your keys and property access cards.

As you did when you moved in, take pictures of the condition of the apartment when you move out. Refer to your rental checklist, since damage noted at move in may not have been repaired.

If possible, have the landlord do a final walk through with you. That way, you can identify any repair issues and correct them if possible.

When should the landlord return your security deposit?

In many states, the Landlord has 30 days to return your deposit. . Also, you may be required to give 30 days written notice. Be sure to check the terms of your lease.

If they are going to keep any portion of your deposit, they must provide you with a detailed list of repairs and cost estimates for the repairs.

They cannot charge for such things as old appliances or yellowing paint. Those are considered normal wear and tear.


By the way, if you’d like to learn more about everyday money matters, consider the Hire Your Money® course. It is a cutting edge, cloud-based interactive course that empowers young people to take command of their money lives. You will be able to access the course on your favorite internet-enabled device. No reading required. Included are presentations about must-know money topics, videos, and downloadable money tools.

Elaine Johnson

Elaine Johnson

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