Rental Tips to Getting Back Your Entire Security Deposit

Reblogger Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Property Manager with Gibson Management Group, Ltd.


Great suggestions and the check-list is a MUST.  Property managers and landlords MUST provide check-out instructions - often several times in order to have the tenant have the property in rent-ready condition for the next residents!!!


Original content by Joi Lawrence-Jones
Whether you're renting a truck or paying for movers, costs can add up quickly when you're changing residences. If you've been renting, the full return of your security deposit may come as sweet relief as you move from one place to the next.

Because you've been without that healthy chunk of change since moving in to the place you're now leaving, anything less than a full refund plus the interest that it has been earning would be a disappointment. It would be a shame if a spot on the carpet, a broken blind or knick gave your landlord a reason to withhold a large portion, or all, of your security deposit.

With a careful eye and some elbow grease, you can ensure that you get your full deposit back and put the money to good use during the next phase of your life. Here are a few tips for getting your full deposit back:

* Work with your landlord. Before making any changes, SPEAK WITH YOUR LANDLORD FIRST. Obtain a list from your landlord that defines normal wear and tear, as well as tasks that must be completed upon moving out. If possible, have your landlord do a walk-through with you before moving out. If not, take photos so you have proof of the condition your residence was in when you left.

* Pack first, clean later. While cleaning and making minor repairs are integral to getting your deposit back, it's a lot easier to do once everything has been cleared out of your residence.
* Dust and vacuum. Do not limit to just floors and obvious places. Dust light fixtures, ceiling fan blades and around the windows. Vacuum closets and under appliances.

* Clean appliances. Check the manufacturer's website for instructions on cleaning the oven. This can take hours, so budget your time accordingly. Clean the refrigerator with a warm, soapy rag and move shelves to be cleaned to the sink. Dry the shelves before returning to the fridge. A handy trick for cleaning microwaves is to fill a microwave-safe bowl with water and half a lemon and heat it for a few minutes. Remove the bowl, wear an oven mitt and wipe down the inside with a wet rag. Clean the exterior of your washer and dryer and remove lint.

* Make sure the kitchen and bathrooms are spotless. Use specialty cleaners for toilets, sinks and other surfaces if necessary.

* Touch up walls. Use lightweight joint compound for nail holes and wall repair patch over larger holes. Let the filling dry, sand and paint. For cracks, use wall repair tape, let dry, sand and dust. Reapply and follow the same process before painting. To find the right paint, take a chip of paint to a home improvement  store and have it matched to the original. If walls are marked use one of the eraser pads that are now on the market.
* Clean carpeting. Before spot-cleaning the carpet, test the carpet cleaning product in an out-of-sight area.

* Replace broken items. Look for burnt-out or broken light bulbs both inside and out and replace. Check for blinds and shades that are broken.

* Clean up outside. Pick up trash. Mow and sweep if necessary. I am noticing on some new leases that landlords are requiring you to clean the gutters and the chimmney if fireplace usage was involved. Be sure to get receipts if a contractors does this work, so that you have proof that these items were cleaned prior to your moving out.

* Donate items you don't want or need. Look for local charitable organizations that could use the items instead of throwing them out. Ask for a receipt so you can write off your donations on your taxes.
* Try to remember on your next move into your next rental to be sure and take pictures of the condition of the property when you moved in. Date and time stamp the pictures for your documents.


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Barbara Kornegay
REMAX Essential - Wilmington, NC
Wilmington NC Real Estate, Homes

"It's the independant American spirit that built this country - hard-working entrepreneurs who believe in the reality of their dreams." Robert E. Hughes

Jun 15, 2010 10:32 PM #1
Roger D. Mucci
Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092 - Euclid, OH
Lets shake things up at your home today!

This is definitely a must, tenants need to be provided with a list of instructions on how to leave the apartment once they vacate.  We always had a form we gave them at "move-in" and one when they gave us "notice to vacate"...................good post Wallace, thanks for re-blogging.

Jun 15, 2010 11:08 PM #2
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


Thanks for sharing, as I didn't see this the first time.  It's useful for the tenants!  I tell them, I will be thrilled if I get to give them back the whole deposit, as that means it's ready to rent back out and I don't have any extra projects:-)

All the best, Michelle

Jun 18, 2010 02:50 PM #3
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

I don't like tenants filling in nail holes and trying to patch; however, I do want them to clean thoroughly OR use a CLEANING SERVICE!

Jun 18, 2010 03:08 PM #4
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