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How to Secure Your Security Deposit Return: 5 Must-Know Steps

Man and woman scrubbing windows with brush. Just like many renters, you hope to get your security deposit back when you move out. Did you know that taking good care of the property is essential for ensuring the return of your security deposit?

One of the main reasons landlords and property managers keep security deposits is due to necessary repairs. Minimizing the potential repairs needed post-move-out is a smart approach.

Keep a record of your walk-through checklist

While you’re not responsible for the house’s condition before moving in, the landlord could attribute any undocumented damages to you. Therefore, before moving in, inspect each room and document the home’s condition.

Be sure to complete and retain a copy of the walk-through checklist given by your landlord. If your landlord fails to give you a checklist, simply note any existing damage, even small ones, and any needed repairs. Also, take pictures of everything you note. This will be valuable in case of a future dispute.

Maintain the cleanliness of your rental

To improve your chances of reclaiming your security deposit, consistently maintain a clean rental home. The longer you reside there, the more important it is to maintain your cleaning habits.

While surface cleaning tackles short-term dirt, long-term living demands regular deep cleaning. A thorough deep clean should cover scrubbing grout, wiping kitchen cabinets and ceiling fans, cleaning appliances (fridge, oven, microwave, dishwasher), and maintaining appliances.

Additionally, clear hair from drains, replace light bulbs, and dust blinds and ceiling fans. Regularly completing these tasks will help ensure your landlord doesn’t deduct from your security deposit for cleaning.

Practice caution when decorating

To maximize your chances of getting your entire security deposit back, decorate your rental home with care. Refrain from putting numerous holes in the walls or making permanent alterations to avoid expensive repairs for which you would be liable.

Rather than using nails or screws for your décor, opt for non-marking, removable fasteners. These fasteners can hold items of various weights and sizes and generally don’t damage the wall when removed.

Place coasters or pads beneath table legs, couches, and other heavy furniture to safeguard your floors during moves. Floor damage is frequent and expensive to fix; by preparing and using the right supplies, you can prevent floor scratches or carpet tears during moves.

Minimize damage by pets or children

When you have kids or pets in your rental, it’s crucial to minimize the potential damage they might cause to painted walls and other surfaces.

Consider positioning furniture or other items against walls to shield them from scrapes, scratches, and stains. Rugs not only protect floors but also create a comfortable play area for your children.

It’s useful to designate specific areas for pets or playtime to confine any damage to a few rooms. Quality cleaning tools like magic erasers are great for removing scuffs and rogue scribbles.

Promptly report issues to the landlord

Regular and honest communication with your landlord is crucial. Letting your landlord know about maintenance issues early ensures swift repairs. Handling maintenance or minor repairs now can prevent larger problems later.

Any damages identified after you vacate are your responsibility. Generally, the landlord covers repair costs during your lease. Reporting maintenance issues helps ensure you receive your full security deposit back when you move out.

Are you looking to relocate? Real Property Management Seacoast New Hampshire can help you find the ideal home in Rochester and surrounding areas. Today, contact us for personalized assistance, or browse our available rentals to discover your options.


Originally published: August 19, 2022

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