The best way to learn how to get your rental security deposit back at the end of your lease is to check your rental contract. Before moving into your unit, you likely signed a lease agreement prepared by the landlord or leasing company. This document is a legal contract between you (the tenant) and the landlord that defines both parties’ responsibilities.
Your rental agreement typically includes details such as the monthly rental rate, payment due date, fees and obligations. By signing the document, you are essentially agreeing to the terms until the specified end of the lease.
It should also include information about the security deposit, including the amount of the deposit and conditions which would prevent the tenant from getting it back.
You should have a copy of your lease agreement, but if you can’t find it or do not have it on hand, contact your landlord or leasing office. Most states require landlords to provide a free copy of the agreement to tenants who inquire about one.
While it is important to read through the lease contract before signing, it is arguably even more important to read through it before moving out. The agreement likely provides instructions for you to follow when your contract expires.
Each landlord may have different move-out requirements, but most expect the unit to be clean and damage-free. Likewise, some states may have different laws regarding landlord and tenant rights.
Your rental agreement may include one or more of the following lease-end requirements:
- Cleaning the unit thoroughly, including appliances. Many tenants forget to clean their oven, which could be an expensive mistake.
- Removing all personal items.
- Disposing of all trash into proper receptacles.
- Returning all keys, including mailbox and amenity keys.
- Patching up holes in the wall.
- Changing the lightbulbs.
- Disconnect the utilities.
- Completing a walkthrough with the landlord.
Your rental security deposit may not be returned to you in full if you fail to complete one or more of the requirements listed in your contract. If the landlord has to spend money to complete these tasks, he or she has the right to deduct it from your deposit.
You may still have a few questions before vacating the unit. If your lease agreement does not clearly state what is expected of you at the end of the lease term, you may find it a good idea to contact your landlord directly. This can help ensure you do not run into any unexpected fees or costs.