Moving Blog
February 09, 2019

Moving Out: Tips to Get Back Your Security Deposit

MovingBy Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group 

Moving out of a rental is one of those ordeals that almost everyone is familiar with. Most of us, when moving out of a rental home or apartment, are counting on the security deposit to help cover the costs of the move. That's a month or more worth of rent that could be used as a down payment for your new place, to replenish your depleted savings, or to pay for furniture and supplies you'll need after moving. And to get that deposit back, you need your landlord to have zero reasons to make deductions.

Today, that's exactly what we're here to talk about. If you want to make sure you get 100% of your security deposit back when you move this time, here's the routine that works for every expert renter.

Clear Rooms While Packing

It's a common misconception that you can only start fixing up a house after all your stuff is moved out. But this is how you wind up running yourself up to the deadline with no time to clean or do repairs. You can get started as soon as you start packing.

Start with low-priority rooms and areas like the spare bedroom or your closet. As you pack, completely clear each area, stacking all your boxes in one corner or a section of the living room. The more you get packed, the more of your house should be clear and therefore easy to inspect. This is the best way to make sure you notice any problems while you still have time to fix them.

Check Everywhere for Signs of Damage

Never assume that since you haven't noticed any damage to the house or apartment that your landlord won't find any. There are tons of little problems that your eyes just don't focus on that your landlord could zero in on like a bloodhound. Scratches on the wall, stains in the carpet, nail holes, and loose fixtures can all potentially be deductions to your security deposit if your landlord finds and pays to fix them.

But not if you find them first. Put on your inspector hat and go over the house with a fine-tooth comb. Check every wall for damage, every baseboard, every door and cabinet. It's okay to leave the house better than you found it to make sure there's nothing that can ding your security deposit after you move out.

Make a list of everything you find and the supplies you'll need to do repairs.

Fill Nail Holes and Minor Repairs

Next, do the repairs. Don't just notice that they need doing. Nail holes are an issue for some landlords and if you hung anything up from paintings to curtains, you'll want to fill them back in. A little bit of putty or spackle will do the trick and if your walls are white, you might not even need a paint touch-up.

Take care of other minor repairs as well. The good news is that you can order cheap repair kits for almost anything online. From scratches in a wood floor to squeaky cabinet doors. Oh, and consider renting a steam cleaner for a day to freshen up the carpets. If there's any spots which are particularly stubborn, try a baking soda solution and using a nail brush in circles over the stain or sticky spot.

Move Furniture with Foot Pads and Blankets

When moving your furniture out, the last thing you want to do is leave behind any extra scuffs. Moving large furniture can be tricky and there's always a possibility of scraping a wall or doorway while trying to get by. And, if you don't fully lift the furniture, you want to keep floors safe from scrapes and scratches.

Fortunately, this answer is simple: Blankets and foot pads. For furniture that you plan to slide part of the way, make sure it's got felt foot pads stuck on or, in a pinch, washrags secured with rubber bands around the feet. As for corners and doorways, all you need to do is wrap the edges of your furniture in towels or blankets to prevent a scrape.

Don't Leave Anything Behind

Abandoned property is one of the most common causes of security deposit disputes. Do not leave a pile of junk that didn't fit into the car. If you do, your landlord is A) obligated to check and see if you want it and B) is stuck with the bill for clearing it out.

While they could toss or donate the stuff, chances are that your landlord will pay a trash service to come get it then charge the cost to your security deposit. To avoid this, take the time to clear absolutely all your personal items out of the house before departure.

Take Pictures of Everything

Moving tip take picturesMost landlords are great private property owners just turning their investments into a friendly kind of profit. But a few really are looking for any way to squeeze extra money out of tenants.

In these rare cases, landlords have been known to claim damage that wasn't there or even cause and photograph the damage themselves after a tenant leaves. All just to take some or all of their security deposit. So, like a renting pro, your best bet is to take pictures of your own right before you hand over the keys.

So, on your last day when the house is completely empty, take a complete photo-snapping tour of the house. Including both sides of every door and the insides of closets and cabinets. Make it clear that the house was in near-perfect condition when you left just in case any shenanigans come up later about 'damage' you didn't cause.

Hand Over the Key Correctly

Some landlords are very picky about handing over the keys, and some aren't. Especially if you accidentally take a key with you when you go. Landlords that are picky about keys may also be inclined to charge you for a new key or for the cost of changing the locks. This would be a pointless reason to lose some of your security deposit, so make sure you hand the key over exactly the way the landlord wants.

Give Forwarding Address

Finally, make sure that you gave your landlord a forwarding address. This is the official way they will contact you to send the security deposit and their list of infractions if they do somehow find something wrong with the house or apartment you just moved out of.

So always, always, always give your landlord a forwarding address so that you can get your deposit and handle any paperwork in case they try to pull a stunt to keep some of your money.


Most landlords are totally reasonable, good people who want to give your security deposit back in full. With these techniques, you will be able to move out of your rental leaving it in near-perfect condition, and you will see that deposit comfortably back in your bank account in no time. And, if your landlord does try some shenanigans, then you know that the house was in great condition and can dispute easily with photos to prove it.

Here at A-1 Freeman Moving Group, we've helped clients with absolutely every kind of move, from local and long-distance moving to international residential moving. And in our four decades in business, we've learned more than a few techniques and secret tips for reducing the hassle of this exhausting and time-consuming moving process. For more great tips to move like a pro, contact us today!


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The Mickelson Family
The Mickelson Family
Best. Move. Ever!
Very pleased with the overall respect and care the men gave to my possessions. Even mailing me very quickly the only thing lost in transit. Would recommend to anyone needing a long distant move.

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