Tenant Advice: Get Your Deposit Back With These 4 Effective Tips


Jade Poole from I Write Words


A rental deposit is something that leads to a lot of arguments over who is wrong and who is right. Avoid all the drama and make sure you get your money back with these 4 simple hacks…

Your deposit is typically the same amount as one month’s rent. This amount of money is meant to act as a form of cover for damage or loss of rent if you damage anything in your rental home or do not pay the rent.

Your deposit protects your landlord from having to chase you down to pay for damages or rent.

If you are a tenant who looks after your home and always pays your rent on time, then you should get your deposit back (in full) at the end of your lease.

However, it’s not always that easy.

The trick is to pay extra attention to the state of your rental home BEFORE you move into it and before you sign the lease.

According to Private Property, here’s what you need to do…

1. Create a snag list

A snag list is a list of items already damaged in the home. You need to create a detailed list of ANY existing damage and issues in the apartment or house.

Make sure you describe the issues in detail.

Take photos of any issues you come across as photographic evidence is a great way to date the snags and prove to your landlord that they exist.

Pay special attention to the following:

  1. Ceilings and walls - are there any marks, cracks and scratches? Is the paint in good condition? Are there any signs of mould or a leaking geyser or water damage?
  2. Door locks - Do the locks turn easily? Have they recently been replaced? Are all the keys in each door inside the house or apartment?
  3. Plumbing - Do all the taps work properly and turn easily? Are there any leaking taps? Make sure you check under your kitchen sink for any water damage and make sure that any connecting pipes for a washing machine etc. are in working order.
  4. Windows - Do all the windows close properly? Are there any broken windows or cracked window panes?
  5. Carpets - Are the carpets in good condition? Are there any stains, burn marks or frayed areas?

Make sure you include as much detail as possible.

Once you feel as though you have included all the issues, then print this list (keep a copy for yourself and for your landlord) and get both parties to sign it and attach it to the lease.

This will help a great deal if there are any misunderstandings when you decide to move out.

2. Make sure you read the fine print of your lease

A number of tenants make the mistake of not reading the fine print of their lease. This is a silly mistake to make.

You need to make sure that you understand all the terms and conditions in your rental contract.

Take the time you need to carefully go through the fine print and find out how much notice you have to give before you can leave.

Some lease agreements require you to stay in the home for at least 12 months before you can give one month’s notice.

Find out if you can make any minor adjustments such as hanging pictures or painting walls a different colour. Not all landlords will let you make any changes to the property.

3. Return your home to the same condition you found it in (if not better)

You need to make sure your home is in its original condition when you decide to end your lease.

If you have hammered nails into the walls, drilled holes or painted walls a different colour, then you need to grab the filler and paint to restore your place to look the same as it was before you moved in.

You should also give the place a really good clean before the exit inspection.

Your landlord cannot keep any amount from your deposit to repair any general wear and tear, but he or she can use your deposit to cover the costs of replacing damaged items such as broken doors or burnt carpets.

4. Bring out the snag list when you move out

When your landlord comes to view the property for the exit inspection, this is typically when some arguments may arise.

This is why any issues you first detected before moving in should be brought to the table. You will need to prove if a broken item or problem existed before you moved in.

If your landlord is not there for an exit inspection, then you should take notes and photos when you move out.

Take pictures of all surfaces, every room, and even a video to show lights and taps are working. You can then send these to your landlord along with your bank details for the deposit.

If you are deciding to buy your first home, then have a look at this article we wrote covering the top mistakes to avoid.

Are your home contents covered?

Don’t forget that as a tenant, your landlord is not responsible for the loss or damage of your own personal belongings.

Which is why you need to make sure that you insure the items in your home the moment you move into a new place.

Yours in hassle-free household insurance,


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