Get Your Rental Security Deposit Back

If you’re like most people, you need every dollar when you move, including your security deposit. Ensure your deposit is returned to you after moving out of your old place by meeting the requirements of your lease.

Here’s how to have the best chance of receiving your security deposit after move-out.

Go Over the Fine Print of Your Lease Terms

Somewhere in your lease are words stating the conditions under which you have security deposit funds returned to you. If you aren’t sure where your lease is, look through your emails, downloads, and texts you received around the time you signed the lease. Ask the leasing office for a copy of the lease if you have lost it.

The lease will stipulate how clean your rental unit must be for a security-deposit return. Requirements vary depending on whether you’re in an apartment or a house. In a detached or semi-detached home, you may be responsible for the upkeep of landscaping and exterior trash removal.

Follow the requirements to the letter. Repair any dents or holes in walls. Learn the skills required in patching, smoothing, and painting, or find a friend with the skills to help.

As a last resort, hire a professional. Be aware that the cost of hiring a contractor — and of doing replacement of items like doors and windows — may be more expensive than forfeiting the security deposit.

Understand the Importance of Clean

There’s broom clean and then there’s white-glove clean. Both can mean different things according to different landlords and state laws. The basic thing to remember about tidying up your old rental unit is that it should be as clean as it was when you moved into the unit.

Broom clean is a term that, for renters, means wiped down, empty, and swept free of floor debris. You also must vacuum carpets and clean sinks, toilets, and appliances. Repainting the walls and deep-cleaning the carpets are rarely required when leaving a place broom clean, as most jurisdictions allow renters to exert reasonable wear and tear on a unit.

You won’t often be expected to leave your rental unit white-glove clean. In most cases, this means that you provide a dust-free, completely empty space with sparkling fixtures and pristine floors. Upscale apartment and resort rentals may stipulate this as a condition of receiving your security deposit back. You may want to hire a cleaning service if this level of spotless is expected.

Leave the Place Better Than You Found It

If the apartment was filthy when you moved in, you still need to do a sufficient amount of cleaning. Unless you have pictures or video clips that prove the condition of the unit was substandard when you began your residence there, you can’t afford not to leave your old home clean.

You might think cleaning is a worthless effort if you fear the leasing agent won’t return your security deposit anyway, but the following are the benefits:

  • Closure from clearing and cleaning
  • Courtesy gestures toward others are rewarding
  • Last-minute cleaning uncovers lost items
  • Photos/recordings after cleaning prove you met requirements
  • Tidying prepares you for new-home cleaning

Remember that broom clean means clearing all items from drawers, moving and sweeping behind appliances, and mopping floors. Also remember that you may need to contact the new residents to retrieve mail or packages that are not forwarded to your new address. When you leave the next renters a tidy, trash-free space, they may be friendlier about managing your correspondence or other leftover issues.

Make Cleaning Kits to Make Move-Out Easier

Streamline the move-out cleaning process by making kits for the various tasks involved. Start with a tote for each separate type of room. For a small apartment, two small totes will be plenty. Combine the kitchen and bathroom items in one of the totes.

Into each tote, place a pair of gloves, dust mask, cleaning cloths and general-purpose cleaners including vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. The lemon juice, vinegar, and other products can be used as natural cleaners to wipe down the insides of cabinets, microwaves, refrigerators, tile floors and countertops.

Add extra cleaning items you normally use to create the individual room totes. For example, a living room/bedroom tote might include:

  • Furniture polish
  • Duster or dusting rags
  • Wipes for baseboards
  • Carpet-stain treatment
  • Glass cleaner for tables and windows

Alternatively, a kitchen tote might contain:

  • Oven cleaner
  • Degreaser
  • Scrubbing pads
  • Disinfectant spray for counters
  • Bug spray

Finally, a bathroom tote would include necessary items specific to cleaning that room, including:

  • Toilet cleaner
  • Bathtub-and-sink scouring product
  • Clean rags to wipe down faucets and handles
  • Glass cleaner for mirrors (if not using vinegar)
  • Appropriate shower stall cleaner

Customize your kit to include the items you normally use for cleaning. If you use a sweeper product on the hardwood floors in your bedroom, include a pack of sweeper sheets in the tote. When you have the majority of your cleaning supplies in one central location, you’re not wasting time running back and forth to your cabinets to grab the supplies you need.

If you have small children or pets in the home as you clean, keep all cleaning supplies out of their reach. Purchase cleaning supplies with child-proof caps for extra security.

Trust the services of Bekins to pack up and move your belongings safely from your old home to your new one.

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