Posted Oct 3, 2014

7 Ways to Avoid Losing Your Security Deposit

security depost
In addition to the sticker shock associated with the cost of a new apartment, you can’t forget about the lump sum security deposit that you’re required to pay right off the bat. One of the largest costs with a fresh move is the security deposit, which is a fixed amount of money that a renter must pay a landlord in order to cover any potential damage to the apartment or missed rent. Security deposits are held by landlords until you’re ready to move out of your unit. Upon moving out, renters anticipate receiving some portion of their security deposit back. However, not all renters always have luck on their side. The amount you are returned depends on the costs needed to restore the apartment to the state it was in when you first arrived. To help you navigate the ins and outs of security deposits, we’ve put together a list of seven helpful tips to ensure you do your best to get your security deposit returned to you in full at the end of your lease.

1. Search for and document existing damage

When you move in (or, even better, before you sign your lease), search high and low within apartment for any existing damage. Look for things that you might be charged for when you move out, such as broken fixtures, severe scratches, and other similar damage. Make sure you take pictures and share them with your landlord. Written and physical evidence of existing damage will help ensure that you won’t be penalized via your apartment deposit for something that you did not do.

2. Talk to your landlord about expectations

When you first move in, ask your landlord explicitly what you need to do in order to receive your apartment deposit back in full. By getting a full outline of expectations (preferably in writing), you can make sure you meet them all without any room for ambiguity.

3. Avoid scratching the floors

Many people lose part of their security deposit for unknowingly damaging their apartment’s hardwood floors. In order to avoid that damage, make sure that you’re mindful when you move furniture around the apartment. Try not to slide or drag furniture from the moment you move in. Use magnetic or felt sliders on the bottom of chairs, tables, couches, and other big furniture, and you will avoid tearing up the floors and thus, having money deducted from your deposit to replace or repair the floors.

4. Repair wall damage

Nearly everyone wants to decorate an apartment by hanging decor on the walls. After all, blank, white walls can be sterile and oppressive. However, make sure if you hang things on walls with an adhesive or a nail, you repair the damage before you move out. Buy some wall repair compound and cover the hole or mark. If you want to entirely air on the side of caution, there are so many great “no hole” decor options, such as adhesive wall paper, decal frames, and more!

5. Know the colors on your walls

After you’ve patched up any wall damage, you’re going to want to paint over the damaged spot. The paint you use should match the existing wall color so the entire wall doesn’t have to be repainted. Ask your landlord or their maintenance team about getting the right paint color. They can either direct you to the original color, or they may even have some extra paint around for you to use.

6. Make showings simple

When you’re moving out, your landlord is going to want to show the apartment to other potential renters. To stay in the landlord’s good graces, make scheduling the showings easy. Yes, you’ll have to deal with strangers walking through your apartment. However, the quicker you allow showings, the quicker your place will be rented — and the easier a tenant you are, the less likely your landlord is to deduct from your security deposit out of frustration or ill-will.

7. Clean your apartment

When you leave, make sure you get everything out of the apartment. This includes food, furniture, clothes, and trash. Even if you don’t want to take something with you, it’s important that you remove the belongings so landlords don’t have to deal with removing items themselves. Consider calling a service like Move Loot to remove items for you, or you can pay a junk removal service to help take big items off your hands.
Have tips to avoid losing your security deposit? Share them with us on Facebook or @Lovely on Twitter!

Elizabeth Pullman


Elizabeth oversees Marketing at Lovely. It is her goal to make sure every single person nationwide knows about Lovely and Lovely Pro!

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