How to Get Your Apartment’s Deposit Back


Moving out of your apartment and into a new home can be exciting. However, one thing that makes all renters nervous is getting their deposit back. Your landlord expects normal wear and tear from any renter, including minor scuffs on walls and carpet that’s been flattened from furniture and foot traffic. However, many renters lose at least a portion of their security deposits because of damage to the apartment that requires the landlord to spend money to fix it before another renter can move in. 

If you’re worried about getting your full deposit back, consider the following:

Read Your Lease

Before you move out of your rental, reread your lease so you know what to expect. Your lease might provide some insight into what will be taken out of your deposit if it’s damaged. In many cases, it’s your responsibility to return your rental back to its original condition before you move out. That means repainting the walls if you painted and cleaning the carpets

The lease might also provide examples of situations where your deposit might be needed for repairs, including holes in walls, broken appliances, and broken windows. 

Document Damages as They Occur

When you first moved into your apartment, your landlord should have provided you with a worksheet to fill out. This worksheet should have made you document any damages to the apartment you didn’t cause, including dings on the refrigerator door, scuff marks, and anything else that a previous tenant was responsible for. 

Your worksheet might not require you to send in photos, but it’s a good idea to keep photos of the damages on your phone so you can document the date. 

You should also document damages throughout your lease that weren’t your fault. 

Have a Walkthrough

Before you officially move out and turn in your keys, make sure you have an in-person walkthrough with your landlord so they can make a note of any damages that might come out of your deposit. Doing this together allows you to dispute any problems and provide evidence in the form of photos so you can prove you’re not responsible for damages. The walkthrough can also give you more information to know what repairs or cleaning you need to do to get your full deposit back. 

Make Repairs

If you are responsible for repairs, make all repairs yourself. It’s typically cheaper to make repairs by going to the local hardware store and doing it yourself (if you can) than it is to rely on the landlord taking money out of your deposit. 

Minor repairs you can do include:

  • Patching holes
  • Painting 
  • Replacing batteries and bulbs

If there are repairs you feel your landlord will charge you for after you move out, consider hiring a repairman and getting a quote for the repair. Once you have the quote, you can determine whether it’s worth it to hire them on your own or wait for the landlord to take it out of your deposit. 

Clean Thoroughly

Cleaning your apartment well can give your landlord a reason not to charge you for minor damages. However, not cleaning your apartment might require your landlord to hire a professional cleaning company, which means taking money out of your deposit. If you have a pet, make sure you clean up any stains from any pet accidents

You should also vacuum and mop every room of the rental while wiping any scuff marks off the walls. If you rented a furnished apartment, clean all of the furniture so your landlord can’t find any crumbs or stains. 

By cleaning everything thoroughly, you can make your landlord feel like you tried to return the apartment to its original condition even if you weren’t able to do everything you wanted. 

Not only that, but it ensures you avoid a fee for a cleaning service when you could have just cleaned your previous home yourself. 

Pay Rent on Time

If there are any dues left before you move out, your landlord will take them out of your deposit. Keep a record of all of your payments in the form of receipts to avoid any misunderstandings. Paying your rent on time also establishes a good relationship with your landlord, which might make them less likely to charge you for minor damages. 

Do a Final Walkthrough

Do one final walkthrough once the professional movers have taken all of your belongings out of the rental. You should schedule the movers to move your stuff out of the apartment at least one day before your keys are due so you can look at the apartment with nothing in it and make small repairs or do any final cleaning. 

Waiting until all of your stuff is out of the apartment allows you to easily see every wall and fiber of carpet so you can rest assured knowing the apartment has been cleaned and repaired back to its original condition. 

Return the Keys

Before you officially move out, make sure you return all of the keys given to you, including your mailbox keys. If you misplaced a key, your landlord would take money out of your deposit to have the key replaced, and the locks changed on the apartment so the new tenant can be safe. 

Fill Out Your Paperwork

The day you turn in your keys, your landlord will have you fill out paperwork so you can give them your new address. Your landlord may choose to return your deposit to you electronically or via mail. If your landlord sends you the deposit electronically, you’ll need to give them your bank details. However, if they mail your check, all you need to do is give them the new mailing address and wait. 

Getting Your Deposit Back

Once your landlord has assessed the rental, they will determine whether or not you’ll receive your deposit. If any money is taken out of your deposit, you’ll receive an itemized list of what was taken out and for how much. This list allows you to dispute any charges you’re not responsible for. If you find any discrepancies, immediately call your landlord. Waiting too long to dispute charges means there might not be enough evidence to help you get your money back.


Marné Amoguis

Marné Amoguis holds a B.A. in International Business from UC San Diego. She is a contributing writer at where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing. Outside of writing, she loves traveling, playing music, and hiking.