Mar 21, 2023

Tips to ensure you get your security deposit back when moving out


Two people shaking hands, representing open communication needed to get your security deposit back when moving out.

Getting your deposit back when moving out of a rented apartment can turn into a touchy subject. A renter often issues a landlord's notice, but there is no returning information about when the deposit will be paid back. Sometimes it can even take a few months. We all know that the deposit money is not a small amount, and it will help you get back on your feet in the next few weeks. That's why we want to give you some tips to ensure you get your security deposit back when moving out without having to wait for too long!

Know your lease inside out

Before you even think of moving into a new rental, it is crucial to ask all the critical questions and examine the entire lease from start to finish. If you haven't done this, make sure that you read it thoroughly before letting your landlord know that you are moving out. What you want to learn is all the rules and regulations regarding the deposit. There are conditions under which your landlord does not have to return the deposit, so know what they are.

When can your landlord refuse to return the deposit money?

The most common reasons that allow the landlord to keep the deposit are:

  • If there are unpaid bills - always make sure you have paid everything fully before you even let your landlord know you are moving out. Any potential debt is a valid reason for them to keep your deposit;

  • If the property is damaged - there is one crucial thing to know here. There is a difference between the wear and tear that happens over time and damaging the apartment. Faded paint on the wall, worn-out carpet, or dents in the wall caused by doorknobs are not damaged property. However, if there are visible holes in the wall, stains or burns on the carpet, or broken appliances or furniture, the landlord has the full right to keep your deposit. If something is damaged, fix it yourself and let your landlord know what happened. They need to know you resolved the problem out of your pocket and that they don't have any additional expenses when you leave the apartment;

  • Potential cleaning costs - the relocation team at argues that all apartments will need cleaning after moving out. But again, there is a difference between regular cleaning and cleaning caused by excessive trash and the lack of care. Thoroughly clean the entire apartment before you move out. Your landlord will see this as an act of kindness and good will to reduce their work after you move out;

  • Not paying your rent - this is a huge deal. If you have been late with your rents, your landlord will be annoyed and suspicious about your intentions when moving out. Pay all rent without question before you issue the move-out notice;

  • Check if you broke the lease in any way - the lease is an agreement between the tenant and the landlord. It includes a set of rules that both parties need to follow. Another reason why you need to learn it by heart is that you cannot allow yourself to break any of the rules constituted by the lease. If this did happen, think about ways to remedy the problem. It is also essential to speak with your landlord. So, do not hide anything from them. If they find out, they have one more reason to keep your deposit.

Keep an open line of communication with your landlord

A drop in rents that happened last year seriously affected the entire housing market. However, landlords' expenses did not go down as well. Understand that the landlord might not have your deposit money ready when you issue the move-out notice. If they have used it for whatever reason, they will need some time to get the money back so they can return it to you. Keep this in mind and speak with your landlord on time. Do not surprise them with this decision.

Sometimes you indeed have to leave the apartment much faster than you intended, but there needs to be a level of understanding. The goal is to reduce the pressure of the entire situation. The crucial part is to ask your landlord when you can expect the deposit money. If they set a date that you are uncomfortable with, negotiate and ask for a sooner date. You both need to agree on the day of payment. It is also a good idea to let them know in advance that you will check in with them a couple of days before the payment date. This is to confirm if they will have the money on time and that there are no changes in the schedule. This way, it will not feel as if you are putting pressure on them.

Let your landlord know that you need the money

Another way to keep an open line of communication is to let your landlord know you will need that money for something. And if you are relocating to a new home, your moving checklist will undoubtedly have a few points that require financing. So, if you tell your landlord that you must have the money for one of these points, you will not just be asking for it, even though that is your full right. If your goal is to start over in another part of Canada, let them know that the moving expenses are high. If they see a purpose, they will understand your situation.

What to do if the landlord refuses to return your deposit

If there has been no breach of lease or any other issues, but the landlord refuses to return the money, you can issue a Letter of Demand. In case they continue to decline, you can sue them in the Small Claims Court.

Tips to ensure you get your security deposit back when moving out - delivered!

We hope that this guide will help you get your security deposit back when moving out within a month or less. As long as there is open communication and you know your rights, there should be no problem. One important thing is to start planning your move-out on time and begin the conversation about the deposit money as soon as possible. Good luck!

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