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Security Deposit Return

Getting your Security Deposit Returned

new move-inRemember how wonderful it was when you moved in to your nice, clean home. As soon as you saw it, you knew that it was the one. You immediately put in your application and set aside money for the security deposit. While you have lived in this lovely home for awhile, you have decided to move on to something that may better meet your current needs. What happens to the security deposit that you put down at the property?

Every year we have several tenants who get their entire security deposit returned.

We even have dozens more who get most of their security deposit back, but too often we have tenants who receive very little. Some even end up owing more than the security deposit.

Security deposits are defined as a payment of money given to a landlord by a tenant in order to protect the landlord against non-payment of rent, damage due to breach of lease, or damage to the leased premises, common areas, major appliances, and furnishings in excess of ordinary wear and tear. Your lease may even hold you accountable regarding more definite items. For instance, all of our leases require tenants to professionally clean the carpets at the end of the lease.

Landlords are not to consider a security deposit as income. Our goals are actually to get the homes “rent-ready” as quickly as possible. We have put together some tips for getting as much of your security deposit as possible returned to you.

Fix any changes or damages

Changes in our rental properties need to be approved. Sometimes the owners will give approval with the stipulation that the tenant needs to change it back to its original condition. Whether it is installing speaker wiring in the walls or changing the color of a room. Small nail holes are ok as long as they are not excessive, but larger holes need to be corrected. Pet damages will always have to be addressed. You can replace the broken vinyl blinds for about $10. If a contractor has to do the repair… it could be considerably more expensive. The best way to handle the costs associated with damages is to take care of your home.

Clean, Clean, Clean

clean appliances - security depositThe commonly neglected areas in a home are:

  • Appliances
    • Remove oven racks
    • Clean ovens inside and outside
    • Clean drip pans
    • Remove and wash shelves in refrigerator
    • Clean microwave inside and outside
    • Clean top and underside of range hood
  • Cabinets and drawers should be cleaned and wiped out
  • Medicine cabinets need cleaned inside and outside
  • Closets
  • Sinks

Walls can usually be cleaned with Mr Clean, Magic Erasers. Stainless steel is easily cleaned with Barkeepers Friend. Wood can be restored to a more natural shine with Murphy’s Oil soap. Doors, trims, windows, etc. should be cleaned. This allows your landlord to spend less time and money getting the home rent ready and allows you to get back your security deposit.

Our tenants are responsible to have the carpets professionally cleaned. Ask for a recommendation from your property manager as we have several vendors available. If they are not cleaned when you move, you will get charged.

Wear and Tear

You may get partial charges for items that wear over time. It is not always easy to ascertain the difference between damages and normal wear and tear. We have attempted to list common items that are considered normal wear and tear vs damages below.


Normal Wear and Tear


Minor marks on or nicks in wall Holes in wall larger than nail size (picture hanger) or excessive nail holes
Faded, cracked or chipped paint Crayon marks, writing on walls, unapproved paint color or excessive dirt requiring more than one coat to cover
Plaster cracks from settling Holes in walls from doorknob, nails, screws or carelessness
Loose wallpaper Ripped, torn or marked up wallpaper
Carpeting/curtains slightly worn or faded by the sun Torn, stained or burned carpeting/ curtains
A rug worn thin by ordinary use Stains and odors in rug caused by pets, spills or leaks
Minor scuffing on wood floor Large gouges or scratches on wood floor
Vinyl flooring worn thin Vinyl flooring with tears, holes or burn marks
Water-stained vinyl flooring by shower Stained or untreatable tiles or grout
Bathroom mirror beginning to “de-silver” (black spots)  Mirrors broken, missing, or caked with grime
 Toilet running or unstable  Broken toilet seat or tank top
 Worn countertop  Burns or cuts in countertop
 Cabinet doors that will not close  Greasy, sticky or broken cabinets and interiors
 Loose hinges or door handles  Damage to door or door frame from forced entry
Slightly dusty blinds Missing, broken or bent slats on blinds

As stated early… Vacating the home in a manner that allows the owner to get it back on the market quickly is our goal. If you are looking to putting a little extra cash in your pocket take measures to ensure that you can get as much of your security deposit back as possible.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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