How to get my security deposit back?

Whether your rented property truly felt like home or you always thought of it just as temporary lodgings providing the shelter you need until you find your dream home, there will be one troublesome issue less to be anxious about when moving out – you won’t have to deal with the complicated process of selling your old place. You can just take your household items and head for your new life without worrying about how to arrange a property sale at the most convenient moment and under favorable conditions.

However, every coin has two sides, so instead of preparing your old home for sale, you will have to take care of all the details that will allow you to get your security deposit back. Your tenant rights and responsibilities clearly state that in order to receive your money you should leave the rental in the same condition as it was when you moved in. Be that as it may, there are a number of factors you should take into consideration if you want to avoid conflicts and mistakes and to get your tenancy deposit back without any problems.

What to do before moving out of a rental

Here is a practical tenant move out checklist that will help you address all the aspects of the moving process in an orderly and efficient manner.

  • Review your rental contract – You need to go through all the clauses in your lease agreement and check the specific renters’ moving out responsibilities and maintenance obligations you have agreed to. Pay attention to special provisions contained in the contract and do your best to meet all the requirements necessary to receive the money from your deposit and part with your landlord on good terms;
  • Prepare renter’s move out notice – you are required to notify your landlord about your move about a month in advance, so send your tenant move out letter on time and make sure the date is clearly stated. Be polite, state that the property is in perfect condition and request your deposit back. Provide your future address and the date of your departure, and suggest exchanging the keys of the rental for your deposit money on Moving day;
  • Pay off all your bills – the law allows your landlord to use your deposit for unpaid charges like utility bills or any due taxes and fees;
  • Repair damages – unless the rental unit was damaged by a vandal or a natural disaster, it is your responsibility to fix and repaint the walls, replace broken windows, make sure the electrical and plumbing systems are in good condition, inspect the roof, the lighting fixtures, the smoke detectors and the fire alarms, repair the fence and trim the trees and brushes, if necessary, etc. Have any repair works documented and keep the receipts for all the materials you purchased and services you paid for. If you made some permanent improvements to the property, request your last rent to be lowered with the amount of money spent;
  • Clean thoroughly – wipe the windows, mop the floors, wash the carpets and the curtains, throw out the garbage and make sure all the appliances in the kitchen, as well as in the bathroom, are spotless (take some pictures or videos to prove your conscientious attitude). Otherwise your landlord may keep the deposit to cover the expenses for cleaning the rental in order to give it to the next tenants;
  • Take all your personal possessions – tidy the property well before leaving – don’t leave magnets on the fridge, posters on the walls, or old slippers on the porch;
  • Schedule rental property move out inspection – schedule an inspection several days before moving out, so that your landlord can verify that the rental unit is in good overall condition and that all the systems and devices are in working condition. Use the opportunity to request your security deposit back and try to negotiate a mutually beneficial move out agreement.

If you have met all the above requirements, you should have no troubles receiving your money and leaving the rental without further ado. However, the tenant move out process often gets very complicated and problematic, as various disagreements or conflicts may arise between you and your landlord concerning specific aspects of the contractual terms or your definitions of “clean” and “intact”.

What to do if landlord refuses to return deposit

How to make sure you get your security deposit back? If your landlord doesn’t want to settle the conflict with peaceful negotiations, don’t hesitate to take the necessary legal measures to retrieve your deposit. You have several options:

  • Write a demand letter – set your requests, detail your reasons, specify a deadline for receiving your money, and warn your landlord that you are going to file a case in court if your rightful demands are not fulfilled;
  • Take the matter to small claims court – if you have complied with all your contractual obligations and can prove it, request not only your money, but also the interests for the period during which it was illegally kept or even double the amount of your deposit. It may be possible to sue your landlord for damages resulting from you not being able to use the withheld money when you needed it.

Follow the above tenant move out guidelines so that you get your security deposit back and don’t experience any troubles when moving out of a rented property.

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