General Question

scrappyblue's avatar

What is the best way to get your security deposit back after moving?

Asked by scrappyblue (44points) July 28th, 2008

I recently moved and the managment at my old apartment complex is keeping most of my deposit citing that the apartment wasn’t properly cleaned. I thoroughly cleaned (twice!) to avoid this issue but they’re citing this regardless. I failed to take pictures unfortunately. Any advice?

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5 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Did you have anything that would show or list in writing the condition of the apartment when you moved in?

Also, how long did you live there? You are not responsible for normal wear and tear.

At this point, your options are limited. You can write them a letter detailing exactly what cleaning you did. Such as, “We vacuumed the carpets and shampooed them. We cleaned all kitchen appliances.” Give as much detail as possible. If you have any receipts (like carpet shampooer rental or cleaning supplies) make copies of those and include them. Then, say that what you want. For example, “I want my $750 deposit returned, and I want a detailed explanation of why any sums that were not returned are not being returned.”

Valuable life lesson learned. Note the condition of everything when you move in. Give them a written document and make them sign yours and acknowledge getting a copy.
Take pictures. (When you move in, and when you move out.)

Good luck. It is worth writing the letter. You may get something back.

jballou's avatar

I’ve gone through something similar, and it will be very hard for you to get your deposit back. It’s basically your word against theirs. Depending on the amount of the deposit and what city you live, your rights vary greatly. Check out your local renters association or some similar organization and see if you can get some advice or representation from them. Another avenue you could take is small claims court. Make sure you hang on to your old lease with them.

The law is usually on your side, but it’s up to you to seek it out and do the research and do it quickly. They should not be able to charge you more then a moderate cleaning fee (if anything at all) if they can prove the apartment was left in terrible condition. They are expected to clean anyway (even if you leave the place spotless) before another tenant can move in, so you’re only expected by law to leave the place reasonably clean. Where things can start getting dicey is if you had pets and they claim pet damage or carpet damage, because those things are expensive to correct.

Again, you should get some advice from a group familiar with your local city laws and go from there. Sounds like you have a pretty good case. Also- don’t forget to leave as many reviews as you can about them. is a good place to start, and there are a few others. Help save others who might rent from these people!

mrjadkins's avatar

I would ask for them to provide you with a detailed list of charges they feel they need to deduct from your security deposit. You know the one thing that distracts many people from doing anything is paper work. Use that to your advantage by burying them in paper work right back.

Never speak to them by phone. Put it all in writing. Put them to work until they feel that giving you the money may be the cheapest way to get you off their back.

Legally, you can’t really do anything. But you can always annoy the spit out of them.

gailcalled's avatar

I went to small claims court for my deposit because the owners’ painters had done the damage and not I. We settled on the courthouse steps – we each got half so bldg owners’ cheated me.

scrappyblue's avatar

Thanks so much for your feedback! I’ll start drafting a letter today.

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