With the time to move college students into their apartments, everyone has a lot on their minds. Furniture and other household items cost a small fortune on top of the rent and security deposits required to move in. The school year goes quickly and it’s time to move out. Moving out of an apartment can be a real hassle, especially when you find out that your landlord has decided to keep your security deposit! Get a jump on your move out process and avoid being taken advantage of by a landlord with these security deposit retention tips!

  1. Before moving any belongings in photograph the property, making particular note of any existing damage. These photographs should be emailed to your landlord for reference. Save a copy of the e-mail and refer to it in the event of a discrepancy after you move out.
  2. Use area rugs in heavily trafficked areas to prevent damage to flooring. This is particularly true on wood flooring if you have any pets present. However it is worth noting that normal wear and tear is not a justifiable reason for a landlord to retain your deposit.
  3. If you’re storing a bike (or other large items) in a laundry room or hallway, a re-purposing a pool noodle is a great way to prevent scuffs on the wall.
  4. Contact your landlord about any minor repairs, such as loose decking or cabinetry, as soon as possible. This prevents a minor problem from becoming a major issue and also creates a record if the landlord does not repair it and attempts to bill you later.
  5. Request information about the move out process. If your landlord always washes the rugs between tenants and you find later he’s used your security deposit to pay for that you have grounds to press for those funds to be returned.
  6. Get renter’s insurance! With a low deductible you’re able to file a claim in the event you’re responsible for damage & are then able to get the necessary repairs done without loosing your deposit.
  7. Know your rights as a tenant! Look into how long a landlord has to return your deposit and how those funds are supposed to be stored. If these guidelines are breached you have grounds for a small claims suit.
  8. Before moving out photograph the property with your belongings in it. Use a copy of a newspaper to date the pictures. This creates a record of how you kept the apartment.
  9. Thoroughly clean the apartment before departure and remove all trash. You may be required to take any bulk trash items to a dump. Your landlord may bill you if he has to do additional cleaning or trash removal.
  10. Once you’ve moved your belongings out and cleaned the property have a friend stop by and walk through. They can act as your witness in court if you’re improperly billed for cleaning services or damage after the move out date.

These tips are just a guideline, however they can help make your life a lot easier. By creating a “paper trail” you have all the necessary documents to take your landlord to small claims court if they have improperly withheld your deposit.