How To Get Your Full Security Deposit Back

How To Get Your Full Security Deposit Back

Renting an apartment involves various financial responsibilities, one of which is the payment of a security deposit. This deposit serves as a guarantee to the landlord that you will care for their property. After you vacate the apartment, if no significant damage is found, the deposit is returned. Here are several steps you can take to increase your chances of retrieving your full security deposit.

1. Document the Initial Condition

Upon moving in, it's crucial to meticulously document the state of your property. Before introducing any of your belongings, photograph or record the entire unit. Notate any existing damage or issues - a broken light fixture or a faulty plug socket, for example. Share these with your landlord, preserving a record that you've notified them of these initial imperfections. Keep these records safe and ensure they're timestamped to validate their authenticity.

Keep a record of any maintenance or repair work that occurs during your stay. This can include plumbing work, electrical repairs, or even routine maintenance. If you needed to repair anything yourself, keep receipts for the costs incurred. If the landlord or property manager conducted repairs, keep a record of these transactions. This documentation can help to establish the ongoing condition of the unit and that you took necessary steps to maintain it properly.

2. Understand Your Lease

Every lease agreement contains unique stipulations and guidelines. Understand your responsibilities as a tenant, including the period required to give notice before vacating the property, which is typically between 30-45 days. Failure to adhere to this clause could risk forfeiting your security deposit. The details in your lease will let you know what your responsibilities are. It'll highlight the rules you should follow to get your full security deposit back. Your lease should define what counts as normal wear-and-tear and the obligations you have as a tenant. 

3. Record Property Modifications

Before implementing any significant changes or upgrades to your property, seek written approval from your landlord. Keeping a comprehensive record of your approved modifications can prevent misunderstandings and potential deductions from your deposit.

4. Know Your Rights

In unfortunate circumstances, some landlords might unlawfully withhold your security deposit. In such cases, you have legal rights to challenge this. For instance, Texas law mandates landlords to issue a security deposit return letter within 30 days of tenant departure. Failure to comply could lead to legal repercussions.

5. Deep Clean Your Property

Maintain your property in its original condition. Patch up nail holes, remove stains, and scrub off scuff marks. If time constraints prove challenging, hiring a professional cleaning service can be a worthwhile investment.

6. Preserve the Original Condition

If your tenancy period is brief, consider avoiding major alterations altogether. Any upgrades or modifications would need to be reverted at the end of your lease, adding unnecessary tasks and potential costs to your moving process.

7. Document the Final Condition

As you did when you first moved in, photograph or record the state of the property upon your departure. This can serve as evidence that you've upheld your responsibility of maintaining the property.

8. Foster a Positive Relationship with Your Landlord

Establishing a respectful relationship with your landlord can go a long way in easing your exit process. A harmonious rapport can sometimes lead to leniency and reduced scrutiny during final inspections.

9. Provide a Forwarding Address

Landlords typically return security deposits via check, requiring your new address. Ensure your landlord has this information to prevent any delays in receiving your deposit.


Let’s give you the rundown on how to get your security deposit back. Start by taking pictures or videos of the unit before you move in. Keep the unit clean and damage-free throughout your tenancy. When you decide to move out, give your landlord an official Notice to Vacate Letter. If you don’t, you could entirely lose your security deposit. On your move-out day, deliver the apartment in pristine condition. That means no holes in the walls, paint over anything you’ve changed, and fix any damage to the unit. Again, take pictures or videos of the way you left your apartment. If you have a good relationship with your landlord and follow the above, you should have no problems! You can expect to receive your deposit back within 30 days of moving out. You can sue your landlord for not returning a security deposit if they give you an invalid reason for doing so. All tenants have rights, and landlords need to follow the proper state laws! 😤


Securing the return of your full deposit requires careful planning from the start of your tenancy. Document the initial and final state of your property, follow your lease's guidelines, maintain the unit's condition, and keep open lines of communication with your landlord. Should any legal complications arise, ensure you understand your tenant rights. Following these steps, you can anticipate the return of your security deposit within 30 days of moving out.

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