When I was in college I was convinced that landlords do not give security deposits back at all, or that they will do just about anything to keep however much they can. While I’m sure that slumlords do exist in this world, I can tell you that Nestwell wants to return your security deposit. It genuinely makes us happy to get a property back in the same shape it was in when we gave you keys (less normal wear and tear).
Believe me, Nestwell would rather give you your money back than deal with making repairs, hiring cleaners, and keeping an itemized list of deductions. It’s much simpler and quicker to just write a check for the full amount and be done. But it’s ultimately up to you as the renter to make sure you leave the rental in good shape.
As long as you follow your lease agreement and the steps below, you should have no problem getting your security deposit back.
Steps for Getting Your Security Deposit Back
1. Read Your Lease
Go through your lease as soon as you decide to move out. Every lease agreement has a clause on terminating, and you’ll need to follow these requirements exactly if you want to maximize the return of your security deposit.
Typically you must give a 45-day notice to terminate your lease. In some rare cases or old leases only a 30-day notice is required.
Also, your lease requires that you drop off the keys, clean the property, and return any changes you’ve made to their original condition.
2. Give Property Notice In Writing
Include your new/forwarding address where your security deposit can be mailed. Nestwell will mail a check within 30-days of you providing a forwarding address and vacating the premises, whichever is later.
3. Pay Your Last Month’s Rent
Many tenants see their security deposit as their last month’s rent. However, this in not the case and it's stated in your rental agreement. In rare cases, some tenants will prepay last month's rent and it will be explicitly stated in your lease. Review your lease or login to your Tenant Portal, if see if your prepaid last month's rent.
Skipping on last month's rent will hurt you. If your apartment needs cleaning or has been damaged, for example, Nestwell will retain a portion of your security deposit and will sue you for the rent that has gone “unpaid.”
Pay your last month’s rent on time. Store the copy in a safe place with your exit notice.
4. Make Small Repairs
Making repairs before moving out is a balancing act. If you are very handy and can make the repairs yourself, go for it. However, if your efforts make it more difficult to fix a repair and it turns out poorly, Nestwell will deduct the cost of the repair from your deposit.
You are better off hiring professionals use Nestwell's preferred vendors to fix the repairs and damage. For example, puttying a hole in the wall and doing a bad job will cost you more than allowing a professional painter to do the work.
Only make repairs you can do quickly and cheaply.
Perform small and easy repairs, including the following:
Patch Holes. Use putty and some paint to patch up any holes you made hanging pictures or curtains.
Paint. If you painted any room in the rental, paint it back to its original color. (Per our lease you are not allowed to change any paint colors.)
Replace Light Bulbs and Batteries. Add light bulbs to any burned out fixtures and check the batteries in the smoke detector. Make sure the bulbs all match and are proper fitting.
Make the Kitchen and Appliances Look New. If you burned anything on the pans below the burners, replace them rather than clean them. These only cost a few dollars at a hardware store.
Make the Bathroom Sparkle.
Accidents happen and you may have caused damage that you can’t easily fix yourself. Please be forthcoming about accidents. We will work with you.
5. Clean, and Clean Again
Do a full, top-to-bottom cleaning job. Start by dusting off the ceiling fans and don’t stop until you’ve mopped all the floors. Pay special attention to the kitchen and the bathroom as they get the dirtiest. Don’t forget the small things like cleaning inside and behind the appliances, dusting the blinds, and vacuuming the closets.
Pro Tip: Moving is difficult time of life. So leave the cleaning and repairs to the professionals. Nestwell can provide you with a bid from our preferred vendor to do all the work you're required to do.
6. Take Your Stuff with You
If you really want to irritate your landlord, leave some of your unwanted junk behind. More times than not, when I went into a vacant property for the first time, I found some of the tenant’s stuff. Sometimes it was small things like a box of trophies in the closet or a dishwasher with dishes inside. Other times, however, I found full bedroom sets or broken appliances.
If you leave anything behind, especially something big, the Nestwell will have to hire someone to remove it, which will come out of your security deposit. Double and triple check storage areas, closets, drawers, and cabinets before you leave for the last time.
7. Return Your Keys
Many tenants forget this step and it costs them. When you’re finally out of your rental, contact Nestwell and set up a time to drop off the keys. Make sure you everything you have, including gate, and mailbox keys. Otherwise, Nestwell will charge you a replacement fee for every key you take with you.
8. Follow Up
State law gives, the landlords 30 days to issue a refund, but some states give even less time (see the security deposit laws by state). If you haven’t heard from your landlord after 30 days, don’t be shy. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 801-268-4134.
9. Take Precautions Along the Way
In addition to the recommendations above, there are other tips and tricks to keep in mind throughout the term of your lease. Taking these small steps can make moving out and getting your security deposit back that much easier.
Move-In Inspection. Ask your landlord to inspect the apartment with you before you move in. Nestwell actually takes photos and videos of the home just before you arrive. You are also given the opportunity to complete a Move-in Property Condition form. Keep a copy of both documents so you can use them to prove pre-existing damage, if necessary, when you move out.
Take Photos. Before you move in your furniture, take clear photos of every room with a date stamp, including inside the closets as well as outside areas, such as balconies. If any damage exists, take close-up photos as well. A visual will help prove pre-existing damage should the landlord try to take it out of your deposit. Please send a copy of the photos to email@example.com.
Move in Carefully. Take care when moving your furniture in for the first time and when rearranging pieces later. Bulky items can scratch floors, rip paint off of walls, and ding door jambs. Add pads underneath chair legs to keep them from scratching the floor when you move chairs in, out, or around.
Do Not Make Changes. Some landlords will allow you to paint, while others request you don’t even use small nails in the walls. Nestwell encourages you to use 3M Command Strips. If you want to make major changes, such as painting a room a new color, get the landlord’s permission in writing before you do so as it will help avoid a conflict later on.
Be Careful with the Walls. A lot of renters use expandable brackets to brace large pictures and furniture to the walls. But these brackets often leave large holes when you remove them later. If at all possible, find a less damaging way to display your decor. Nestwell encourages you to use 3M Command Strips
Keep the Rental in Good Shape. Treat the space like it’s your own property and not “just a rental.” Keep it clean and in good condition while you’re living there. For example, clean up spills on the counters and floors immediately and be particularly careful with light-colored carpets and counters that can stain easily. Treat appliances with respect so they remain in good working order when it’s time to move out.
Pay Your Rent on Time. Make sure you have your rent check to Nestwell by the due date each month. This is the single easiest way to get and stay in good graces with us. We may also be more forgiving of small wear and tear you cause if you maintain a good relationship.
Move-Out Inspection. Nestwell conducts a video and photo move-out evaluation after you leave.
Many renters struggle to come up with an entire month’s rent for a security deposit. While you may forget the pain of putting that much down by the time you move out, you are still entitled to receive it back. If you do your part, you should have no problems getting your security deposit back.