Getting Your Security Deposit Back

Friday, March 14, 2014

Blog Image

Across North America, it’s a fairly standard practice for landlords to request tenants to provide a security deposit before moving into a rental unit.  In most cases, the security deposit amounts to one month of rent.  The premise is that the deposit will be returned once the tenant moves out, provided the rental is in the same condition as when it was rented to the tenant (except for normal wear and tear).  Some of the most common reasons why renters lose their security deposit are below, as well as how these situations can be avoided.

One of the most common reasons for withholding a security deposit is when a landlord states that damage was done to the property beyond normal wear and tear. It is recommended that tenants document the condition of the rental before moving in and take pictures or a video walk-through of each room.  If a tenant is wrongfully accused of causing damage to a rental unit, this precautionary measure will help prove the damage was not caused during their tenancy.  It’s beneficial to take pictures before moving out as well, as a basis of comparison. Furthermore, tenants should also do a thorough cleaning of the rental unit before vacating it, as a courtesy to the landlord.  If a tenant leaves behind an unacceptable mess and/or fails to remove all of their belongings, this may be justifiable grounds for the landlord to keep the security deposit.

Another common occurrence for tenants to forfeit their deposit is failing to provide adequate written notice to end the lease.  Depending on the lease agreement, a tenant may be required to provide 30 to 90 days of notice before moving out.  Many leases have a clause stating that a tenant’s failure to provide the required notice can result in the landlord keeping the security deposit.  It is important for renters to read the lease to know exactly how much notice is required.


Most rental accommodations include some items that belong to the landlord, such as appliances, draperies and basic furnishings.  It’s important to leave all of these items in the rental unit when moving out.  If the tenant removes any of the landlord’s possessions, this can also be grounds for losing the security deposit.  In addition, don’t forget to return all copies of the keys!

Finally it’s always a wise decision to adopt the proactive measure of asking the landlord to provide an inspection checklist upon leaving, if they have one.  The inspection checklist will list exactly what the landlord will be looking at before a tenant moves out.   The tenant could also request to accompany the landlord while performing the walk-through of the rental unit.  This way both parties could discuss and agree on exactly what might need to be done, in order to receive the security deposit back.


By following these simple recommendations, a tenant would be better prepared to receive the security deposit back! 

The Team