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5 easy fixes so renters can get back their security deposits

Trade your keys in for a sweet chunk of change

A person handing over a set of keys over a contract Credit: Getty Images / Natee Meepian

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Putting down a large sum comprised of first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit when signing a new lease on an apartment or house is a total bummer. While you’ll reap the rewards later when it comes to already having paid rent for two months, it’s questionable for whether even the neatest person ever see that security deposit again.

So, think positive. Yes, you will get back your security deposit – but you must be prepared.

Getting your security deposit back starts before you even move into your new rental. Read your lease thoroughly, and know exactly what you’re reading closely for.

Take note of everything, and get it in writing

When it comes to physical property, take note of what you’re responsible for. Landlords usually cover large appliances, plumbing, and electrical issues. However, double-check these stipulations so you know if it’s up to you to call the plumber for a leaky faucet. If you have any questions, ask your landlord sooner rather than later and always get it in writing; verbal confirmation won’t be enough if a disagreement arises.

As you begin to move into your apartment, keep track of any existing damage. Take photos and make a list to send to your landlord. Not only will this hopefully get any problems taken care of, but it also means that you won’t be held responsible.

Throughout your time living in the apartment, keep up this habit of taking inventory of any issues that arise, and keep your landlord updated so they’re aware of any broken appliances or damage to the facilities that they need to fix for you and future tenants.

Staying proactive through your residency will protect you as a renter from being held responsible for problems that you’ve given your landlord plenty of notice about.

When it’s time to move out

When the time comes and you prepare to move out, you can always ask your landlord to do a walk-through with you to gain clarity. There may be small DIY fixes that you need to implement to secure your security deposit.

Here are some of the most common fixes you’ll need to make to get your security deposit back.

1. Spackle holes in the walls

A person filling in a hole with 3M hole repair.
Credit: 3M

If your walls are scattered with small holes, you’re at risk for losing your security deposit.

Thumbs tacks seem like the best and fastest ways to pin up posters to add some personality to your walls. But, if you’ve created a stunning gallery wall in your home, there’s a chance you’ve also created quite a few holes.

If your walls are scattered with small holes, you’re at risk for losing your security deposit. However, this can be solved with a $6 tool.

3M has crafted an applicator that will fix holes up to 3 inches in diameter. The applicator is filled with a putty primer that fills the hole, which you can then spread and sand down using either end of the applicator. This simple and straightforward repair tool will get the job done quickly and have the walls of your rental looking as good as new.

Get the 3M High Strength Small Hole Repair at Amazon for $6

2. Repaint any peeling spots

A paint roller painting primer onto a wall.
Credit: BEHR

If some wall paint peels off with the strips or putty when you go to remove them, then you may need to pull out some paint brushes.

Maybe you didn’t put holes in the walls for your home décor and instead used Command Strips or poster putty. If some wall paint peels off with the strips or putty when you go to remove them, then you may need to pull out some paint brushes.

The task of painting your apartment may be a hefty one, especially if you’ve painted any walls in your apartment, but the best-case scenario is that you just need to spot paint. Ask your landlord for the paint color he or she used for your space so that you don’t have to try and match it and potentially end up making the walls look splotchy.

Get the BEHR Multi-Surface Stain-Blocking Primer and Sealer at The Home Depot for $27.98

3. Remove stains in the carpets and couches

Someone spraying Woolite InstaClean onto carpet.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Woolite’s InstaClean stain remover is tough on stains but safe for children and pets who may come in contact with it.

That pet stain on your apartment’s floor-to-floor carpeting or the red wine stain that has been lingering on the couch of your fully furnished apartment could come back to haunt you once you try to get back your security deposit.

A tried and true carpet cleaner that can work on a variety of upholstery types is key to getting out these stains. Woolite’s InstaClean stain remover is tough on stains but safe for children and pets who may come in contact with it.

If your stains are a little more heavy duty, it may be time to invest in a carpet cleaner with some real power behind it. The Bissell Little Green Machine is compact enough to travel between apartments with you but still has some superb force behind it to suck out those deep-rooted stains.

4. Put those tiles back into place

A person fixing the tiles in a home.
Credit: Getty Images / Sasin Paraksatile

An adhesive made for quick repairs can come to the rescue so you don't need to spend a full day of tiling.

While you may have forgotten that pesky bathroom tile that got kicked out of place, your landlord is sure to notice. Repairing your tiles doesn’t require you to do a full day of laying tiles. Instead, an adhesive made for quick repairs can come to the rescue.

If you have just one or two missing tiles, then a tube of adhesive is just under $10, and it can help you get the job done. Make sure to give the tile and floor a good scrub to clean out any grime that could affect how well the tile ultimately stays put.

5. Leave your space clean and tidy

A swiffer duster cleaning a sealing fan and a swiffer wet jet mopping the floors.
Credit: Swiffer / Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The cleanliness of your apartment that could cost you your security deposit.

Potentially the most surprising reason why you wouldn’t get your security deposit back has nothing to do with a broken appliance or scratch on the wall. It’s actually the cleanliness of your apartment that could cost you.

When moving out of your rental, after the furniture and belongings have all been cleaned out, take the time to give it a once over for objects left behind and for areas that may need some scrubbing.

Dusting and vacuuming your space can get rid of any debris that got stirred up when you moved your stuff out. After you’ve cleaned up, give the windowsills, baseboards, sinks, and counters a good wipe down to clean away any lingering grime. Running over floors with a handy mop will give your space a refreshed shine, making it a welcoming spot for the next tenants.

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