Getting most of your security deposit is easiest when you have filled out a thorough move-in report and photo documented everything in the condition you received it. Also, it is important to alert maintenance about all problems as they occur so you aren’t responsible for them upon move-out. Whether you planned ahead or not, there are still steps you can take to get as much back of your deposit as possible. A little hard work goes a long way!
One of the easiest ways to keep your security deposit is through cleaning. The best attitude to have towards cleaning during a move is “What would I expect this to look like if I were moving into this home?” Appliances are probably the most forgotten item. Deep cleaning ovens, stoves, refrigerators, and microwaves makes a huge difference in how much of your deposit you get back. Even if the carpets are vacuumed, the counters wiped down, and not a single item is left behind, dirty appliances necessitate calling a maid service which has a minimum fee typically at or over $100.00.
Professionals get to charge more for their services. Like maids, painters and contractors have base rates that get expensive. Personalizing a home often takes a toll on the walls. Instead of having a crew come spackle and repaint, consider doing this yourself. Spackling and sanding small holes left by mounting televisions or hanging pictures is easy to do yourself, can save you hundreds of dollars, and is easily learned online. Once the holes are filled, consider asking your property manager or landlord for small amounts of paint to do touch up work yourself. The cost of a roller and a pan is much less than the cost of a professional painter.
If you’re renting a home and responsible for the upkeep of the lawn, this responsibility carries to the very end of your lease. Since move-out inspections should be done within seventy-two hours after keys are turned in, proper yard maintenance done in the last week of tenancy will keep you from being liable for the cost of landscaping. Rake the leaves, cut the grass, remove debris, trim the hedges, and re-seed anything left bare by items like parked cars and play sets. This is dependent entirely on what’s seasonally appropriate, but overall an easy way to keep the most of your security deposit.
Turn in Keys, Stay in Touch
Upon move-out, make sure all the proper forms are filled out when handing in your keys. This means providing a forwarding address for the return, and handing in every key to the property. During this time, talk to your property manager about the steps you took to ensure the home was taken care of, and ask about the security deposit process to ensure you know what to expect moving forward. If you have a move-in report or pictures of the condition the property was in when you began your tenancy, this is a great time to make sure your landlord has that same information.