Is there anything I can do to make sure I get my full
security deposit back when I move out?
A security deposit is money that protects landlords against damage beyond normal wear and tear, provides a remedy for unpaid rent, and funds clean-up of the rental, if necessary. When moving in, the best way to protect your security deposit is to take pictures of EVERYTHING—including the inside of appliances, ceilings, walls, floors, hallways, etc. If you have a video recorder, it is also a good idea to videotape the condition of the apartment when you move in. Another suggestion is to complete a detailed list of all damages present in the unit when you move in. Check out our Apartment Condition Checklist. It is important to be very detailed—things such as nail holes in the walls, burns in the carpet, and cracks in the windows could all lead to a deduction from your security deposit if you can’t prove they were there when you moved in. You can either send this checklist to your landlord after you move in (return receipt so you can prove it was received), or complete the checklist with your landlord present. Either way, keep a dated copy for your own records. After you move out, designate a member of your house to keep this information. Often you won’t be aware that your security deposit has been withheld until after everyone has left town.
Last modified: May 23, 2012