How to Get Your Rental Deposit Back

I’d like to think that most landlords are ethical people that aren’t trying to squeeze every penny out of tenants, and many are. Every once in a while, though, a landlord comes along that will keep your security deposit no matter what you try to do, or how hard and well you clean the place that you are moving out of.

Getting a security deposit back after you’ve already left a place is really hard to do. You may have to bring your landlord to small claims court if that person refuses a refund. But know that you will need to bring proof with you, and lines at small claims courts can be long and tiresome. If you’re moving to Boulder or moving to Fort Collins and haven’t yet signed that lease agreement, here’s what you need to do beforehand to ensure that you will get a security deposit back when you move out.

  • Create a list of the rooms inside of your new place, and place a comment next to each room detailing the state of the room as you find it. In most states, landlords should hand these checklists out to tenants, but few do, so it’s up to you to make your own list.
  • Document it: take photos of each room with your phone, and upload those photos to a file that you can easily access at a later time. Make sure to snap pictures of anything that’s not in good shape, so that you can easily point to those things when you move out.
  • Research the landlord or company that you will be renting from. The Internet is a great place because it gives everyone the chance to completely research anyone else. Find out if there are any complaints against a landlord or rental company, and look at the Better Business Bureau rating for a rental company if applicable. Should you shy away from a list of really bad reviews even if the apartment that you found is cheap? Yes!
  • Read your lease carefully. Before moving to Boulder or moving to Fort Collins, go over the lease that your new landlord sends to you critically. Does the lease state that you will get a security deposit back, or is that deposit non-refundable? Are there any other details or parts of the lease that you don’t agree with? Find the time to speak with your landlord about every single detail in a lease, so that you aren’t left with any surprises when you do move.
  • Go on a walk-through with a landlord or with the person in charge of maintenance for the building. Point out everything that’s wrong with a place, and ask the person you’re working with to initial and agree to the things that you have an issue with. This way, you’ve thoroughly documented everything that you could later be blamed for.

Moving to Fort Collins or Moving to Boulder

Once you have signed the lease and arrived at your destination, there are a few things that you have to do as a tenant to ensure that you always get your money’s worth.

  • Keep things nice and tidy. If you put holes in the walls, realize that you will have to patch those up before you move out. If you have carpeting in your new home, do not let anyone wear shoes inside your house, and clean any stains as soon as they happen.
  • Sometimes getting a landlord to repair anything is a nightmare. If you have to cough up cash for your own repairs, take a photo of the before and after, and send your landlord the bill right away — whether or not you can deduct these amounts from your rent depends on the law where you live, so make sure to look into those details before deducting anything. The point of sending your landlord the bill and photos is that you can later show good faith if you can’t get a rental deposit back (take photos of all bills too).

When it’s time to leave your old or new place, go through every room in the apartment and take more photos. You can never have enough photos, and with apps like Dropbox it’s really easy to store everything that you need to keep for a long time. The goal of renting is to live in harmony, live in a good place with a low rent, and get your deposit back when you do move. Follow these tips for a sure thing when it comes to that deposit refund!

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