How To Get Your Full Security Deposit Back

By Francine Fluetsch on August 19, 2014

This article is brought to you by CORT, a subsidiary of Berkshire-Hathaway and the world’s largest furniture rental and relocation services company. To learn more about how we can help college students like you, click here.

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One of the first things you’ll be paying your landlord when you finally find a place off campus is the security deposit.

This hefty amount of money can be double the rent or more, so it is definitely something you want to get back at the end of the year. To help ensure that you get most, if not all of your money back, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Moving In

It starts before you move in:

The day you get your keys is the day that the place officially becomes yours. What you want to do on this first day is a thorough walk-through with the owner/landlord to make sure that anything that was already damaged is noted and will not become your fault.

The best way to guarantee this? Take pictures! It will be a little overwhelming, but you need to be very diligent in your findings and make sure that you do a full sweep of the place before accepting the keys along with the responsibility.

One thing that can really help is having multiple people look with you; whether it’s your family or your roommates, having multiple pairs of eyes look over everything will help ensure nothing goes unnoticed.

Even if something still works, but it looks a little worn, make sure to take notes as well as pictures. The house I’m renting, for example, had so much lint in the lint compartment on the dryer, that it literally looked like the old tenants NEVER cleaned it.

And while the dryer still works, I made a note to the landlord because leaving that much lint in the dryer can cause a lot of damage, and if it were to break, I wouldn’t want to take the fall.

Moving Out

Spackle holes:

Getting creative with your place and making it yours is one of the many wonderful things about living off campus. It definitely feels more like a home away from home than the dorms do. But keep in mind that every picture you hang could mean a deduction from your security deposit.

To make sure this doesn’t get in the way, make sure to Spackle the holes, and apply some fresh paint if necessary. If you yourself aren’t that good with a paint brush, pay a visit to the art department and ask for a helping hand.

Steam clean carpets:

Though I’m sure you were careful, a couple of things may have spilled on the carpet during the duration of your stay. It will be worth your while to have the carpet steam cleaned, than have the landlord see the carpet and decide how much to fine you. At least if you hire a place to clean the carpet, you’ll know about how much you’ll be dropping on it.

Clean the stove:

The inside of the stove is probably something that most people would kind of wipe with a Clorox wipe and call it good, but you really want to get in there because there can be a lot of build up.

Same goes with the top of the stove. Depending on what type of stovetop your place has, a lot of rust can actually build up. You can put tin foil on it to prevent this, so if you notice some specks forming or rust that won’t come off, make sure to take extra care.

Extreme clean the place:

You want to pretend that you are going to have to eat your dinner off of the ground, so you better make it spotless. The best thing to do is regularly clean your place, as well as have a few deep cleaning sessions once in a while to save some time at the end of your rent period.

This is essential in the bathroom, because if you let gross stuff build up into the grout in the shower, you are going to have a hard time getting it out.

Have a friend who doesn’t live at the house come and inspect your cleaning job when you are done and tell you honestly if it’s good or not.

Don’t leave stuff behind:

Right now, there is a big, old, heavy TV sitting on my porch from the old tenants. Have a yard sale or something, but don’t just leave your stuff in the house or in the yard. The landlord will have to deal with it, and though you have moved out you could still get fined.

There are tons of free and for sale groups on Facebook where you can post your stuff and someone will gladly take it. Or, advertise your things for sale on Uloop.

Mention things as they break:

A lot of landlords will advise you to tell them if something breaks, rather than fix it yourself or not do anything. Sometimes it can be the fault of the house (like bad plumbing) and you won’t get fined. If you try and fix some of the harder things by yourself, you may cause more harm than good.

It’s also a good idea to mention these damages before the end of the renting period, so everything can be taken care of and you won’t have to deal with it last minute.

Stay on the landlord’s good side:

They are people too, and if you get on their good side, chances are you will have more of your security deposit at the end. Make sure to pay your rent on time, be courteous of their rules, and keep the place up to the best of your ability.

These are just a few things to keep in mind as you embark on your off campus adventures. Hope you get your full deposit back!

Looking for a more convenient way to furnish your off-campus apartment? Rent stylish furniture from CORT and save time and money. For more information on furniture rental packages, click here.

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