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How to get your security deposit back…. without giving you a headache.

How to get your security deposit back…. without giving you a headache.

security deposit

One of the most stressful times in our lives is when we move, and if you are renting on top of that, you worry about losing out on your security deposit. Things you can do to ensure that you get your maximum security deposit refund from  your property management company!


  • Move-in condition form!

Understand that a property manger and or landlord have photos and or videos and documented inspections from your move in date, so do your own due diligence and take the time to look around the rental and document any item(s) that may be considered damaged and report them to the landlord. This is your responsibility and you should want to take the time to do this to protect you from any possible discrepancy charges. Think of this as your insurance policy for your security deposit – there is no such thing as too much documentation!!

  • Always give your proper notice in written form and within the required time frame!

This can avoid penalties, violation fee’s and even late fee’s coming out of your security deposit.  You would expect the owner of the property to give you proper notice to vacate so remember they expect the same in return. The required time of notice should always be written in your lease, be sure to confirm with your property manager if you are unsure!

  • Leave plenty of time to make any repairs landlord requires you to do!

In most cases property mangers and landlords will out line the move out requirements in your lease and or send you a move out packet with details on what is expected prior to you vacating the property. Make sure you pay close attention, and don’t be afraid to ask. Contrary to what you may feel, they want to help you in assisting you to get your maximum security deposit refund, they want that open dialogue!

  • Understand what entire house cleaning means!

Appliances are a big one that always get’s missed but is used daily. Cleaning the oven, fridge and microwave can make a huge impression on how you treated the home while occupying it. Professionally cleaning carpets is a must. Floors are one of the main things looked at while doing a walk through. If you have pets, make certain you are having the cleaners treat for any pet dander and or smells, this helps avoid having landlord re-doing them at your expense. Always turn in your receipts as proof of what was cleaned.

  • Know the rules and always adhere to them!

It’s always a safe move to get familiar with what is and isn’t allowed, always read your lease fully and carefully. Asking before doing is best practice and you should always take the approach of asking for clarity to avoid violations. Following those simple guide lines can help get 100% of your deposit back.

  • Don’t forget to provide a forwarding address!

This delays you in getting your deposit quicker and can result in having to re-issue checks, and an an unnecessary delay in getting your refund.


Just remember that the more time you put into leaving the property in the condition you entered it in, the less time, if any a landlord or property manager has to hire billable hours. If it takes a maintenance technician 2 hours to remove all of the nails you put in the wall, they most likely will charge you for that time it took them. Labor is expensive, and while it may seem unfair, you have to remember that if you leave burnt out lightbulbs and nails in the walls, those items must be correct, and at the industry billable rate.


Now that you have the basic’s and fundamentals on properly getting your deposit back I’ll give you a few personal opinions from being in the industry and as a renter myself. 


1. Never yell at your property manager or landlord for something they require you to do. You knew this requirement prior to signing your lease so you end up looking like the bad guy for yelling since you didn’t take the time to read your lease.

2. Keep your own copy of your lease and move in documents, this isn’t just annoying to your landlord when you ask for it but it’s your protection and it’s your responsibility to have that on hand. If you leave it up to someone else to provide that especially when you are yelling at them, your request will often get moved to the bottom of the list.

3. If you didn’t pay your rent on time and you made excuses for every time why you couldn’t, even though that cell phone you’re calling on got paid, then please don’t ask for your security deposit to be expedited. Landlords do their best to get your deposit out in a timely manner, but asking for an expedited refund doesn’t change the process of what needs to happen.

4. If you didn’t respect the property you rented, bottom line, this shows, landlords know it, and you can not expect a full refund of your deposit.

5. If you tend to forget that you chose to rent a property and not a hotel, then respect your decisions and understand the difference between the two rentals. It’s always worth a google to get the definition. Landlords aren’t there to clean up after you and make the appointments you didn’t want to do or couldn’t find the time.

6. Understand that property managers and or landlords have a time stamp of when you paid your rent. That history is available from the day you moved in so just because you don’t remember that this is your 6th time being late, don’t insult your landlord by hoping they forgot as well and think you can convince them you are right and they are wrong, they know how many times you paid late!

7. Use the tools they provide! If they allow you to pay online, pay online! If they have online maintenance request forms, use them! If they email you, email them back! Never ever think that calling and calling and calling and never leaving a message gets you answers quicker and the response you were looking for. Hint… you’re most likely not the only tenant choosing to communicate with them so consider being polite and using the tools they provide to you. They are there for a reason.

8. Heads up, when you agree to rent a NON-PET rental whether that’s a house with a nice big yard and fully fenced or a tiny apartment. No pet rental means just that. Guess what, it also means your buddy can’t bring his furry buddy over, it also means you can’t pet-sit your brothers dog and it also means if you get caught you’ll pay for it with your security deposit. It’s not worth the risk of trying to sneak in pets.

9. If you suspect your landlord dislikes you may want to take a look at your choices and behavior… Unnecessary phone calls, not reporting problems that caused further problems, paying rent late and telling them you had to pay your cell phone bill, utilities, credit cards, etc, conclusion: Pay rent on time if not early, read your lease and determine if a call is necessary at 4:00 am indicating your light bulbs are burnt out. And please, report any issue that effects the property even if it’s tenant caused, the landlord will appreciate that it was taken care of before it gets worse.

10. Don’t in any way think you can rent a property and the next day after move in call and make requests for upgrades. This red flags you! If you didn’t like the place prior to signing the lease, don’t sign the lease and keep looking. If you for some odd reason think because you have a signed lease and landlords are required to accommodate you with your esthetic taste, please reconsider renting. There are often As-is clauses in lease which do not require the owner of the property to make any unnecessary repairs after move in.

11. If you’re 18, first time renting and wanting to rent with roommates, that’s cool but guess what’s not. Having your parents call and make unnecessary requests. You toured the house without your parents, you agreed to the lease terms without your parents, well then you should probably not have your parents call the landlord. For legal reasons, we really encourage you to make the effort before running to your parents, your landlord will appreciate the communication and you have an opportunity to build a respectful relationship.

12. Realize this, if you are renting and you plan on renting prior to vacating the property, people talk, especially in this industry. Don’t give a reason for your current landlord to share with a future landlord unnecessary topics. Realize that your rental history follows you for any future opportunity, why make it more difficult on yourself?


Remember, the last part of this article is just my opinion and thoughts as a renter myself, and working in the industry so take them with a grain of salt.

The biggest thing to remember is communication – everyone appreciates respectful, timely communication, and the golden rule of do unto others as you would have done to you strongly applies in the property management word. More often than not, your property manager is willing to help you out and have an open dialogue to help you have the best possible experience, it makes everyone lives involved a whole lot easier!

Written by: Alyssa Anderson

Real Property Management Salt Lake City

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