It’s PCS season and that means it’s time to move out of your rental. How did your family treat the home you rented? Do you deserve to get part or all of your security deposit back?
No doubt you’re going to be putting down a security deposit on your next home so it would be nice to get this one back. Here are 5 tips to getting your security deposit back.
Document the Condition of the Rental the Day You Move In
Getting a full refund of your security deposit starts on the first day of renting. It is important to document the condition of the home you are renting at the beginning of that rental period.
When you first moved in, you should have gotten a checklist from the rental company. This list is where you document any damage that the home currently has.
Some rental companies and owners are very lenient, while others are very strict. They may also be very nice at the beginning of your rental period and make you think you don’t need to document every detail. Don’t fall for that. Write down everything. You don’t want them to come back at the end of your rental time and say you caused any damage to the home that you did not cause, no matter how big or small.
Take time to thoroughly inspect each room and the outside of the home. Write down any holes in the walls or floors and any marks, scratches or dents on surfaces.
If there are screens on the windows or doors, note any damage to them.
Look at the garage door. Are there any dents?
Check the rugs for spots. Make sure they were cleaned before you moved in.
Take photos of any damage. Make a copy of those pictures and submit them with the checklist. Have the rental company manager co-sign this list and keep a copy in your records.
Read Your Lease Carefully and Note What You Are Responsible For
Your lease should state whether the tenant or owner is responsible for certain situations. Sometimes random things are thrown in there, such as calking. In some homes the owner is responsible for a burst pipe, while tenants are responsible in others. You should know this before disaster strikes. Pest control can also vary between those responsible.
If you want to get back your entire security deposit, make sure you know what you are required to do.
You also need to know the rules and if you don’t agree with something, talk to the property manager or owner before you sign the lease. Does the lease say no walking or riding bikes on the grass? If you aren’t likely to follow that, find out if you can have it removed from the contract. Many companies use a standard lease. You can likely get an amendment added to the lease.
Fix Damages Before Your Move Out Inspection
Once you know what you are responsible for, make sure you fix anything you need to. Did your child write on the walls? Don’t lose your security deposit over that. Clean the walls. Did your teenager hang up every poster they own? If you have an abundant amount of holes in the walls, fill them in.
Did your pet damage anything? You likely had to make a pet deposit before you moved in. That doesn’t necessarily cover the damages they caused. Check windowsills and stairs for chew marks. Try to buff out any scratches a pet made in the floors.
If you broke a screen, a towel rack or doorknob, make sure to replace them. It will likely be cheaper than the rental company paying someone to fix it and will keep you from getting a full refund on your security deposit.
Clean the Home Before the Move Out Inspection
Look at your lease to see if you need to hire a professional to clean or if you can do it yourself. Some rental companies require a receipt from a cleaning company or at least a carpet cleaning company. Follow the cleaning rules to make sure you get your security deposit back.
Know what needs to be cleaned as well. Do you need to clean the oven? Read your lease to find out how you need to leave the yard if you have one. Do you need to pick up pet litter or mow the grass? Ensure everything is clean before your move out walk through if you want your security deposit back.
Do a Final Walk Through with the Rental Company and Follow Up to Make Sure You Get Your Security Deposit Back
To get your security deposit back, make sure you do a final walk through with the rental company. Have the checklist you did when you moved in so that you can refer to it if they say you caused damage to something you know was already damaged.
Likewise, make a checklist of items you did damage, but did not repair. Have the rental company sign off on the list to agree what is damaged so that they do not spring anything on you later.
Finally, follow up with the company to ensure you get your security deposit back quickly. Each state has a set time frame that security deposits must be returned by.