4 Ways to Get Your Security Deposit Back
Moving is exciting and sad. It signals the end of one chapter in your life and the beginning of another.
One of the biggest concerns in the moving process is how to get your security deposit back.
Below are four (4) ways to get your security deposit back
- Get Right with Your Lease
- Decide on What You’re Taking
- Leave No Trace
- Get the Itemized Final Inspection from the Landlord
Get Right with Your Lease
Read your rental/lease agreement.
You need to make sure you have done everything you agreed to. If you have not, get those things done first before giving your 30-day notice – including completing the length of the lease. For example, if your lease is for 12 months, pay your 12th month of rent, then give notice.
Give Your Notice the Smart Way
There are many ways to give your lease but only a few that will help you get your security deposit back in a timely fashion. Check your lease agreement for how you agreed to give notice.
In most cases, the most reliable way to give notice is to send your 30-day notice in writing via the mail with tracking and a “signature confirmation”. The landlord or his representative will have to sign for the letter. The signature confirmation gets mailed to you.
Don’t forget to include:
- The date your rental agreement or lease is up
- The date you turn in the keys
Keep all proof that you have fulfilled your part of the lease. Things to keep include all rent receipts, copies of receipts for repairs you made or paid for, all messages, emails, and other correspondence. You don’t need to keep these for seven (7) years like your taxes, but it is best to keep them for several years.
Decide On What You’re Taking
To get your security deposit back, you need to plan for the mess of packing and leave the residence to be neater than you found it.
Moving is the best time to separate out your junk and reduce the clutter in your home. Before packing, designate specific locations for junk, donations, and recyclables. Keep up your local trash service until the day you turn in your keys.
Pro Tip: Schedule your junk and donation pick-ups on days your children are not home.
Don’t forget to turn in your recyclables. Many places pay for the materials, which always helps with moving costs.
When you plan how to handle your unwanted items, you reduce the chance of something being left behind.
Leave No Trace
The Scouting motto “Leave No Trace” is an excellent way to get your security deposit back. In short, when you leave the area, leave it as if you had never been there.
The “Leave No Trace” principle also applies to moving, being a guest, attending an event, or going out to eat. When you leave the location the way you found it, you show respect for your host, the event staff and demonstrate the quality of your character. (It is also the fastest way to be invited again.)
The same principle applies to moving. How you leave the residence is a statement of who you are.
Pro Tip: When you move into a residence, take pictures of every room. Add this to the move-in inspection you complete. Keep a copy to compare to photos you take when you leave a residence. Then take pictures when you move out to support efforts to get your security deposit back.
How do you “Leave No Trace”?
There are several simple things you can do that helps get your security deposit. If you make these efforts, there will be little room for your landlord to withhold your full security deposit.
- Repair any damage you created.
- Clean the carpets
- Clean up the outside areas
- Yard & side yard – Mow the lawn, clear the weeds, and leaves
- Balcony – Sweep and scrub or powerwash – if not painted
- Scrub the house – Include the ceilings, walls, baseboards, and inside drawers and cupboards
Final Step – DON’T SKIP THIS!
On the day that you leave and before you turn in your keys,
- Take pictures of the residence as proof of how you left it
- Compare the pictures to what the place looked like when you moved in
- Print out two sets – one for your records and one for the court, just in case.
Get Your Itemized Final Inspection from the Landlord
California requires that landlords provide an itemized statement of any deduction from the security deposit. The law limits what can be taken out. The deduction amount must be reasonable and fit the repair/cleaning cost.
Furthermore, the landlord has 30 days to send the statement with the refund of your security deposit. If you disagree with the landlord’s assessment and can prove the landlord is wrong, you can fight it.
Getting your security deposit back boils down to three simple things:
- Treat the property as if you were selling it for top dollar
- Keep your word
- Document your actions
Let us help you get your security deposit back!