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10 Tips: How to Get your Rental Deposit Back

Posted in: I'm Moving, Apartment Life

We’ve already chatted about ways to make your rental feel a little homier and comfier. But when it’s time to move, you’ve got a big task on your to-do list… get that rental deposit back! That means that those holes in the walls from your gallery wall need to be filled, and everything should be fresh & lookin’ good for your landlord.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 tips for how to get your rental deposit back, so you can pick up that big ol’ check when it’s time to move on out.

1. Know your Rights

Check Your Rental Agreement

Alex Larsen, COO at Roomi puts it this way:

“In most cases, the expectations are pretty simple. Paint your walls back to white, broom-sweep the floors, and patch any holes you put in the wall. At least with multi-unit rental properties, the landlord will usually bring in a crew to clean and paint before the new tenant moves in. Before you spend too much or too little time and energy preparing to move out, it’s best to simply ask your landlord about the conditions he or she expects upon vacating the apartment.”

“The other important tip is to document the condition of the unit before and after you move, so there is no question about what happened during your tenancy. Usually, you want to take photos before you move in and document any damage you notice left by the previous tenants. Keep these photos and notes handy, so when you move out, you can compare and ensure you’re only held responsible for when you lived there. Also, you can be strategic about any apartment updates and redecorating you do to minimize the work later. Dark paint, for example, takes several coats to return to white. But that doesn’t mean you can’t paint or do other redecorating! It’s all about being smart about what you do. We talked directly with some landlords on what alterations they approve of, and you’d be surprised at how much you can do to make your new place feel like home.”

When you’re first moving IN to a place, review all of your rental documents and make sure you and your landlord are on the same page as to what you can & cannot do or decorate in your new space before you pick out your favorite shade of beige.

If you’re moving OUT, it’s totally worth a quick call or email to your landlord. Will they be hiring a cleaning crew after you move out, or do they expect you to get the space super clean? Do you need to professionally clean the carpets? Know your landlord’s expectations, so you are on the same page.

2. Come up with a Game Plan

checklistLike any big task, it’s best to get organized and make a to-do list before you get started. Give yourself plenty of time to tackle each item on your move-out list, so you’re not flustered at the last-minute.

3. Fix Nail Holes


It’s so easy to fill nail holes and it shouldn’t take you much time at all. Follow this tutorial to get your walls looking good again.

4. Patch Large Holes

patching-holes-in-drywallLarger holes in the wall require a few more steps to fix…but it’s still an easy DIY project you can tackle. Follow this tutorial and say “bye-bye” to holes.

5. Clean….and then clean some more!

cleaningMost landlords expect your place to at least be “broom-clean.” That means no trash on the floor, no sticky residue on the countertops, and bathrooms that don’t make you shriek in horror. Again, be sure to chat with your landlord to find out what they expect from you and tidy up accordingly. You can even follow these spring cleaning hacks for an earth-friendly apartment.

6. Don’t Forget about Appliances

Picture of a Dirty Toaster OvenNo one wants to see a smelly microwave covered in cheese from your nacho attempt. It’s easy to forget about appliances when you’re moving out, but we’re betting your landlord will take a look at all of them. Clean your appliances and while you’re at it give these 6 overlooked areas a good clean too.

7. Move Everything Out

Kids DeskLeaving stuff behind is a surefire way to not get that deposit back. If you don’t want an item, donate it (check out our guide for places to donate different items) or trash it. Don’t leave it behind, because now your landlord has to deal with it.

8. Gather Keys

House-KeysYou’ll return the keys to your rental on your final walk-thru, but make sure you gather ALL the keys. Garage door openers, storage locker keys, bike keys…gather them now and be ready to return them.

9. Maintain the Home’s Exterior

Branches-in-YardIf you live in a rental home, then you’ll want to tidy up the outside of the house before you move out. These yard cleanup tips should do the trick.

10. Prep for your Walk Through

Handshake Illustration

Schedule your walk through with your landlord well in advance, so you’re not scrambling at the last-minute. The walk through is a time when you’ll check out the space together to see if any damage has occurred. We recommend being there in-person for the walk through….that way you can explain anything that the landlord deems to be unacceptable.

If you follow these 10 tips, you’re on your way to getting that rental deposit check back!


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