When you move out of a home you own there are a number of things to take care of, but getting your security deposit back isn’t one of them. For renters, squaring everything away can mean the difference between getting every dollar of the security deposit back or leaving your rental empty handed.
Here’s what definitely needs to be done before moving out to ensure you get your entire security deposit back.
Check Your Lease
Every lease will mention the security deposit in some form or fashion. Virtually all leases will note security deposit amounts, and some will also outline potential deductions or fees that will come out of the security deposit. Always adhere to any guidelines laid out in the lease or you’ll risk losing part or all of your security deposit.
Reference Your Inventory and Condition Form
Hopefully when you moved in you filled out an Inventory and Condition Form. This form allows a new renter to note any issues with the condition of a home or apartment when they sign a lease. That way you’re not on the hook for problems you didn’t cause. Have this form handy when you do a final walk through so you can point out problems that existed before you moved in.
Clean, Clean, Clean
And clean some more. If you leave your apartment or rental less than spick and span, chances are you’ll see a cleaning fee deducted from your security deposit. Another consideration is whether or not the lease specifies that the rental has to be professionally cleaned. If so, you’ll need to provide proof you had it professionally cleaned, or you may still get charged a cleaning fee.
Even if the lease specifies that a cleaning fee will automatically be deducted from the security deposit you can’t leave the place a pigsty when you move out. It’s best to wait to clean until you’ve moved everything out. That way you won’t have to move furniture around or worry about cleaning up a second time.
Return All Keys
Making a copy of a key may only cost you a couple dollars at the home improvement store, but landlords charge much more for missing keys. This is particularly true for electronic fobs and key cards. Give yourself a week or so to track down all of your keys: house keys, community keys, mail keys, etc.
Take pictures after everything is moved out and cleaned up. Lots of pictures. Get wide shots of the entire room, close ups of appliances, photos of problems, and shots of the locks on the front door. Basically the more detailed photos you get the better protected you are if there’s any question of the property’s condition after you move out. It’s also a good idea to email the pictures to yourself to establish a date for when they were taken.
Give Your Landlord a Heads Up That You’re Moving Out
The Austin Tenant’s Council suggests that renters provide their landlord with at least 30 days notice before moving out. This is sometimes required in the lease (which is another good reason to look it over) and can be a stipulation for getting your security deposit back. Even if it isn’t required, providing the landlord with a move-out notice well in advance will be appreciated.
Schedule a Final Walkthrough
The final walk through is when the landlord tours the entire rental to determine the condition. You always want to schedule a final walkthrough when you can be present so that if there are any concerns or questions they can be handled then and there. Also, whenever possible, schedule the final walkthrough a couple days before your lease is up so you have a chance to correct any issues and get your full deposit back.
Don’t Break Your Lease
It seems pretty simple, but it bears repeating: don’t break your lease. If you’ve violated the lease in any way the landlord could have grounds for retaining the entire security deposit. If you have tomove out before your lease is up, discuss the security deposit situation with your landlord. They may be willing to return the security deposit if you stay long enough for them to find another renter.
One thing to remember is that Texas Property Code Chapter 92.101 states that landlords have 30 days to return your security deposit, and you’ll have to provide them with your new address to get it.
Planning on using your security deposit to pay for professional movers? Give the team at Square Cow Movers a call if you’re moving in Texas. We offer affordable rates and exemplary service for moves that are made around the Austin and Houston metro areas.