We’ve all been there – you move into a new place and happily pay the security deposit. When your lease expires and you’re getting ready to move out, thoughts like “how much of the security deposit will I get back?” or even “will I get back any of my security deposit?” start creeping up.
Many tenants believe that landlords and property management companies will do whatever they can to avoid refunding your security deposit. This is absolutely not true. While there are some shady landlords out there, most landlords and Atlanta property management companies are eager to return the full security deposit to their tenants. The main reason is, if they return the entire security deposit, it means they received back the property in great condition and that you have paid all your dues. Any owner would much rather get back their house in great shape, than to take your security deposit and put thousands of dollars into renovating the house again.
Here is what you need to do to get your full security deposit back
- Read your lease: You must know what’s in your lease. Hopefully, you read it before signing it, but now that you’re getting ready to move out, get a refresher. Your lease will provide you with a lot of information on the move-out process. Make sure you read it carefully and understand it. If you need clarifications, reach out to your landlord or property management company before you move out.
- Notify owner in time of your move-out: This one goes back to reading your lease carefully. Giving proper notice may not seem like a big deal to you, but landlords need plenty of time in order to get the wheels in motion and get the property ready for the next tenant. If they don’t get enough notice from you, they will make sure the cost associated with it comes from you. Most leases require a 60 day notice. All notices should be in writing. Make sure you get an acknowledgment your notice was accepted.
- Clear your balance: If you owe back rent, utilities, repair expenses or anything else, make sure you pay it ahead of time. If you still have a balance on your ledger, the landlord will deduct it from your security deposit.
- Make the necessary repairs: Your landlord just wants their property back in the same condition they gave it to you (minus reasonable wear & tear). Don’t give them a reason to deduct anything. If you painted a wall, paint it back. If you broke something, make sure you get it fixed. Here’s a short list of items you should pay special attention to: broken blinds, broken windows, dirty fans, broken locks, damaged carpets/flooring, holes in the wall, missing light bulbs, HVAC filter, landscaping.
- Clean the house: This is another big one. Many tenants tend to leave their house dirty and packed with trash. This is the #1 cause for security deposits being forfeited. To avoid this, simply throw away all your trash (inside and outside) and clean the property from top to bottom. It’s easier to get a refund when the landlord walks into a sparkling clean, good smelling house. You may want to hire a professional company to clean the house and the carpets. In most cases it would be cheaper than the price that the property management company will charge you. It’s also the right thing to do, as the property was most likely professionally cleaned when you first moved in. You can find a more tips in this article.
- Return all keys, fobs and remotes: It’s easy to forget to return keys. Many tenants also think that “landlord must have copies, so they wouldn’t need my keys”.
Landlords expect you to return your keys and all other access tools (fobs, remotes, pool passes, etc.). You also don’t want to just leave them inside the house. Make sure you get clear instructions from your rep as to how they want those keys back. This will prevent confusion.
- Take pictures: It’s not a bad idea to take pictures and videos of the property once you’ve finally moved out. If there’s ever a discrepancy between the way you left the property and the inspection report of the property management company, your pictures could play a major role.
- Make sure you provide landlord your forwarding address: Simple step, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t get back their security deposits simply because the landlord did not know where to mail it and/or could not reach the tenants.
Remember, getting back your security deposit depends mostly on you. Be proactive, communicative and responsible. If you take all the necessary steps, your landlord will be happy to return you the entire security deposit.