5 Ways to Get Your Security Deposit Back

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Learn How to get your security deposit back

5 Ways to Get Your Security Deposit Back

5 Ways to Get Your Security Deposit Back


Moving is stressful. There is so much to do. Between budgeting the move, packing, and planning moving day, it is enough to give you a headache.  One of the biggest worries is how to get your security deposit back.

Junk Bandit Removal and Hauling has helped a lot of people move over the years. We have learned a lot about moving and how to make it easier. In our experience, here are the top five (5) ways to get your security deposit back:

  • Get right with your lease
  • Determine what goes with you
  • Get an initial inspection before you move out
  • Leave No Trace
  • Review the final inspection from the landlord

Get Right with Your Lease

Read your rental/lease agreement.

Reading your lease agreement is key to get your security deposit back

You need to make sure you have done everything you agreed to. If you have not, get those things done first before giving your 30-day notice – including completing the length of the lease. For example, if your lease is for 12 months, pay your 12th month of rent, then give notice.

Give Your Notice the Smart Way

There are many ways to give your lease but only a few that will help you get your security deposit back quickly. Check your lease agreement for how you agreed to give notice.

In most cases, the most reliable way to give notice is to send your 30-day notice in writing via the mail with tracking and a “signature confirmation”. The address to send this to must be in the lease as described by law. The landlord or his representative will have to sign for the letter. The signature confirmation gets mailed to you.

Don’t forget to include:

  • The date your rental agreement or lease is up
  • The date you turn in the keys

Keep all proof that you have fulfilled your part of the lease. Things to keep include all rent receipts, copies of receipts for repairs you made or paid for, all messages, emails, and other correspondence. You don’t need to keep these for seven (7) years like your taxes, but it is best to keep them for several years.

Determine What Goes With You

To get your security deposit back, you need to plan for the mess of packing and leave the residence neater than you found it.

Moving is the best time to separate out your junk and reduce the clutter in your home. Before packing, designate specific locations for junk, donations, and recyclables. Then make arrangements for the donations and junk pick-ups. Junk Bandit Removal and Hauling offers curbside pick-up.

Pro Tip: Schedule your junk and donation pick-ups on days your children are not home to avoid arguments over old toys.

Don’t forget to turn in your recyclables. Many places pay for the materials, which always helps with moving costs.

We recommend that you keep your weekly trash service going until the date you turn in the keys.

When you plan how to handle your unwanted items, you reduce the chance of something being left behind.

Ask for An Initial Inspection

Did you know the law covers how to ask for an initial move-out inspection as a way to get your security deposit back?

Ask for an Initial Inspection so you know what to do to get your deposit back

Information on how to ask for an initial inspection starts on page 55 of the California Tenants – Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities handbook. Details include how to ask, the legal times requirements, and your rights.

Did you know?

  1. The Initial move-out inspection cannot take place earlier than two (2) weeks before the lease is up.
  2. The landlord must provide an initial inspection if requested but cannot perform the initial inspection without the request.
  3. The landlord must prepare an itemized statement of repairs or cleaning during the inspection. They are items the landlord believes the tenant should do.

Leave No Trace

The Scouting motto “Leave No Trace” is an excellent way to get your security deposit back. In short, when you leave the area, leave it as if you had never been there.

“Leave No Trace” also applies to moving, being a guest, attending an event, or going out to eat. When you leave the location the way you found it, you show respect for your host, the event staff and demonstrate the quality of your character. (It is also the fastest way to be invited again.)

The same principle applies to moving. How you leave the residence is a statement of who you are.

What if the residence is dirty/damaged when you move in?

California law protects tenants against unscrupulous landlords. Per law, you are responsible for leaving the residence in the same level of cleanliness as you found it. (Click here for more information.). However, you will need proof to back up your claims.

Pro Tip: When you move into a place, take pictures of every room before moving your stuff in. Include this phoots with the move-in inspection. Keep a copy for yourself. You will need them to compare to the photos you take when you move out. Having before and after pictures supports your efforts to get your security deposit back.

How to “Leave No Trace”

There are several simple things you can do to help get your security deposit back. If you make these efforts, there will be little room for your landlord to withhold your full security deposit.

  • Repair any damage you created. Not sure if the repair is your responsibility or the landlord’s, click here to find out.
  • Clean the carpets – professionally
  • Clean up the outside areas
    • Yard & side yard – Mow the lawn, clear the weeds and leaves
    • Balcony – Sweep and scrub or powerwash – if not painted
    • Scrub the house – Include the ceilings, walls, baseboards, inside drawers, and cupboards

Final Step

On the day that you leave and before you turn in your keys:

  • Take pictures of the residence as proof of how you left it
  • Compare the pictures to what the place looked like when you moved in
  • Print out two sets – one for your records and one for the court, just in case.

Get Your Itemized Final Inspection

The State of California requires that landlords provide an itemized statement of any deduction from the security deposit.

The law limits deductions landlords can use. The deduction amount must be reasonable and fit the repair/cleaning cost.

Furthermore, the landlord has 21 days to send the statement with the refund of your security deposit. If you disagree with the landlord’s assessment and can prove the landlord is wrong, you can fight it.

Review the final list of deductions to when you get your security deposit back

Getting your security deposit back boils down to three simple things:

  1. Keep your word
  2. Document your actions
  3. Treat the property as if you were selling it for top dollar

Calll Junk Bandit Removal and Hauling

Junk Bandit Removal and Hauling is here to help you with your move. We offer several options to declutter and remove the junk to make your next move easier.

Let us help you get your security deposit back!

Call us today at (916) 970-0790 to schedule your appointment!

Additional References & Resources to Get Your Security Deposit Back

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