There’s no denying that some extra cash definitely helps right after relocating. If you just moved out of any rental property — apartment, townhome, etc. — the security deposit you paid when you moved in can be used to help decorate your new abode. Many rental companies make it a hassle to receive your deposit; almost treating it like an extra income source.
It’s your money, and with that simple fact in mind, here are some ideas on how to get your security deposit back after moving out. A recent Rent.com survey noted 25 percent of renters lose their security deposit. Having an affinity for deep cleaning helps prevent this problem, so let’s get started.
Decluttering before any Cleaning Starts is a Must
Make it a point to spend some time getting rid of any unneeded or unwanted items before starting to clean your rental. Consider donating any items in good condition to Goodwill or another charity organization. You’ll also get the benefit of savings on next year’s taxes if desired.
If you own copious amounts of junk that you are simply trashing, consider using a bulk pickup service to save on trips back and forth to a dump or other waste facility. Decluttering in this manner helps make cleaning your old residence easier. Be careful not to damage any walls or doors while getting rid of junk. It’s not a smart thing to do right before moving out!
If Any Small Repairs are Needed — Talk to your Landlord First
You may be able to handle any small things in your rental that need repair to ensure they don’t lead to deductions from your security deposit. Be sure to talk to your landlord beforehand to see if it is acceptable. If you know you are moving and still have the time before notifying your landlord, let them handle any small repairs to save you the hassle. Hopefully, you documented any issues when you first moved in, so you don’t get dinged for an issue caused by a previous renter.
Document any work you’ve done at your rental; taking photos or videos with your smartphone as necessary. This helps if you have to go to small claims court should issues arise with your landlord.
Clean, Clean, and Clean
Once your rental is decluttered and any small repairs are dealt with, it becomes time for some heavy cleaning. Consider renting a professional carpet cleaner if the cost isn’t too high. If your place has hardwood floors, use a recommended wood cleaner to ensure that they shine upon inspection.
All the windows in the property need to be cleaned. Give the bathroom, sink, and shower a thorough once over. Make sure the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator are cleared out and spotless — don’t forget the freezer as well. Make it a point to use an oven cleaner while ensuring the stove — especially the burners — isn’t sporting old food debris.
Failure to properly clean a rental property is a leading reason why many lose some or all of their security deposit.
Provide your Landlord with your New Address
Your landlord needs your new address to send you any deposit refund or an itemized list of any charges against said deposit. Don’t forget to give them that address. They probably won’t remind you, as it provides an easy excuse for not refunding your deposit.
Understand your Legal Rights
Renters enjoy a measure of protection when it comes to refunding security deposits, so make sure you understand your rights. Keeping your deposit without providing a reason why is illegal in 47 states, but 36 percent of renters surveyed by Rent.com reported not receiving any explanation from their landlord for withholding their deposit. You must receive an account of all charges in writing from your landlord — if not, take them to small claims court.
The cost for filing in small claims court is nominal — typically $10 to $50 — and you don’t need a lawyer. This is a major reason why documenting every repair or previous issue in the rental is important. Present any photos or videos of the property along with all letters sent back and forth between the landlord and yourself to the judge. You stand a great shot at getting your money back — provided you are in the right.
This look at how to get your security deposit back hopefully provided some insight on the process. Making the effort to properly clean while knowing your legal rights is generally all it takes.