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8 Steps to Getting Your Security Deposit Back

#1 Research

Research the landlord or rental management company. Work or mouth, an internet search, a public records search or an inquiry with the Better Business Bureau are good resources.

#2 Lease Review

Read your lease, or see Student Legal Services for a free lease review. A lease is a binding contract - once you sign it, you are stuck with it.

#3 Inspection

Inspect the property carefully when you move in. Detail all repairs needed and all cosmetic flaws. Document everything on a move-in checklist.

#4 Create a Record

Take photos of all the rooms on move-in day. Take extra photos of damaged or stained areas.

#5 Tread Gently

Treat your apartment with care while you live there. Let the landlord know right away if you notice any problems or signs of normal wear and tear. Remember that if the place gets trashed, you pay the bill.

#6 Repeat Inspection

When it is time to move out, go through the inspection and photograph process from #3 and #4 again. Ask your landlord to walk through the apartment with you after you have cleaned it so he can alert you to any items that still need to be addressed.

#7 Provide a Forwarding Address

When you turn in your keys, give the landlord a copy of any cleaning receipts you have and provide your forwarding address. Turning in a forwarding address at this time is critical if you want to get your security deposit back.

#8 The Refund

Your landlord should send you a refund of your security deposit and an itemized list of any funds withheld and the related damages within 30 days after you turn in your keys and provide your forwarding address. If you think the charges are unreasonable, write your landlord a letter or email disputing the charges. Be specific and keep the tone professional. If you are unable to work it out with your landlord, seek the advice of an attorney to explore your legal options.

Reviewed 10/19/2015

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