Moving out of your apartment may be an exciting or stressful time in your life. You could be changing jobs, or possibly moving to a new town or state, meaning you’ll have a lot on your plate. It’s very important to leave your apartment in the best possible condition, not only to ensure getting your full security deposit back, but to keep your rental history clean for future rentals.

One of the best ways to get your security deposit back is to leave your unit in move-in condition by cleaning and fixing up any issues. At the very minimum, you want to leave the apartment in the same shape as when you walked in on the first day of your lease. There are some things that are considered “normal wear and tear,” which is expected. Things like small scuffs on the paint or carpet looking a bit more worn. This, however, does not mean holes in the wall and stains on the carpet. Things like that will generally get your security deposit taken or deducted from.

It’s still important to try fixing everything yourself, since your landlord can (and probably will) charge you for the cost to have it repaired by a handyman, which will be more costly. Ask your landlord if they will do a final walk-through with you to check the condition of the apartment. While most will not give you an immediate answer on whether or not you’ll receive your security deposit back, it may give you some peace of mind to know that they are satisfied with the condition. Your landlord should have given you a pre-existing condition form to fill out when you first moved in, to make note of any issues with the apartment that don’t necessarily need to be fixed, but need to be noted as pre-existing. This helps to ensure your innocence if your landlord wants to charge you for a pre-existing issue.

To ensure receiving your deposit in full, make sure the apartment is in the same condition you moved into. Take pictures of the unit for proof and make sure to lock up and leave your keys and forwarding address with the landlord. With your keys you should include a written letter notifying your landlord that you’ve officially vacated the premises, and make sure to keep a copy for yourself. In most states your landlord has a certain amount of time to inspect the property and inform you of any damages or possible deductions from your security deposit. Make sure you understand your state’s laws and let your landlord know you expect to hear from him within that timeframe. Good luck with your move!

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