When you rent with bad credit, you sometimes have to pay a full month’s rent as a security deposit. You probably want this back when you move out, especially if you want to apply it towards security deposit or rent on another apartment.
1. Read your lease.
Your lease will let you know what condition you need to leave your apartment to increase the odds of getting your full security deposit back.
2. Report any damages to your landlord right away.
While you’re still living in the apartment, your lease probably requires you to let your landlord know about damages or appliance malfunctions.
3. Treat the apartment like a home you own.
The better care you take care of your rental, the more likely it is that you’ll get your deposit back.
4. Give notice before moving out.
Your lease will spell out how far in advance you have to let your landlord know you’re moving out. It may be 30, 60, or 90 days before the end of the lease. Failing to give proper notice could cause you to lose your deposit. Breaking your lease can also forfeit your deposit – or the landlord could apply the deposit to your lease-breaking fee. Your lease will define the process for leaving your apartment, either at the end of your lease or in the middle of the term.
5. Fix your damages.
If you broke something while you were living in the apartment, fix it before you turn in your keys. Unrepaired damages will almost always be taken out of your security deposit. For serious damages, you may even receive a bill in the mail if your deposit wasn’t enough to cover the repairs. Replace the blades of broken blinds or wall outlet coverings.
6. Repaint the walls.
Many landlords allow you to change the color the walls as long as you return them to their original color before you move out. Ask your landlord for the paint color if you need to. Be careful not to get paint on the carpets – removing the paint can be a pain and leaving it there can reduce the amount of the security deposit you get back.
7. Clean the apartment.
Vacuum the floors. Clean the kitchen. Remove nails from the wall and fill them with putty if they holes are noticeable. Leave your apartment at least as clean as you found it.
8. Refer back to your move-in checklist.
Remember when you first moved in, you walked through the rental with your landlord noting the condition of the apartment. You’re typically required to leave the apartment in the same condition when you moved in. If there was something broken when you moved in, you don’t have to fix it when you move out.
9. Don’t leave anything behind.
Your landlord could charge a fee if they have to dispose of any of your belongings. Do a final walkthrough of every room, closet, storage rooms, and the balcony/patio to make sure you haven’t left anything behind.
10. Take pictures before you turn in the keys.
This gives you proof of the condition of the apartment when you move out.
11. Give your landlord your new address.
Your landlord can’t send your deposit to you if they can’t find you. Make sure you leave your forwarding address to make it easier for the landlord to send your deposit to you.
In the majority of states, your landlord has to give you an explanation if they’re keeping any part of your deposit. Ask for an itemized list and compare it to the photos you took after you cleaned. Challenge the landlord’s explanation if your pictures tell a different story.