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How To Get Your Security Deposit Back

Having gone through many rentals, we have compiled this checklist that will help you make sure that you get your full security deposit returned, after vacating your current apartment. Remember the bond, between you and your landlord. You knew your landlord for months, perhaps even years, so you have likely formed a pretty substantial relationship. But even when you exchange pleasant words and reside in harmony while you are renting their space, landlord tenant associations can very often do a 180 at the time of the tenant re-locating, especially when the security deposit is concerned. Sadly, not all landlords address their tenants in a casual and friendly manner. If you are confused about why you did not get your full deposit back, it isn’t difficult to understand why. This is very common for many tenants in New York.

How To Get Your Security Deposit Back

Remember this – it is not only unfair for a landlord to refuse a security deposit reimbursement for no cause. In most claims, it is illegal.


At CribRater, we recommend that prior to your move-in, you take the subsequent actions. These will help guarantee you get your safety deposit back.

Apartment Checklist

Fill out an apartment rental examination checklist. We recommend you fill out the move-in check-list your landlord offered you, or download our checklist. Make sure to check off all containers, guarantee everything is working, confirm any imperfections, bring a camera and take images or movies of your apartment before you unpack your boxes. Pay additional interest to something that appears less than stellar.


That way, your landlord cannot claim you caused the damage. Once you have filled out the check-list, make an authorized and dated copy of it for you and a copy for your landlord. Take photos the day you move out. Document how you left no damage or changes in the apartment: Take pictures of every room and e-mail your landlord on the same day. If you cannot send them via email, do not delay it. Most digital pictures have time stamp information contained in a file, if you ever need to show the date and time they were taken. This way, any damage after you move-out cannot be attributed to you.

Lease Carefully

Additionally, always read your lease carefully. Your lease may tell you if you need to go through discovery, and how much time is needed. Typically, if your lease has an end date, you can just move on or before that day, however many leases quickly extend. If yours does, you will need to give notice, or you might be vulnerable to losing your safety deposit for not fulfilling your lease. If you’re on a month-to month lease, you will also need to give written notice, often 1 month before you plan to move out. Understanding how the landlord-tenant law applies to you is vital to your full return of your safety deposit. Landlords must adhere to local regulations and statutes in new York City.


It is vital that you spend time putting the apartment back to its original condition:

  • Patch any holes in the walls where you hung posters, pictures, etc.
  • Repaint the walls their original color (unless your new colors have been landlord-approved)
  • Fix any damages you caused
  • Clean the refrigerator and oven
  • Clean the entire apartment once you have all your furniture moved out

After that we recommend requesting a final walk through with the landlord and signing an agreement that everything is in place and agreeing on a timeline to receive the full deposit back. Usually this takes 2 weeks in New York City. This also allows you to return the keys and tie up all the loose ends.

Finally, make sure you give the landlord your new address 🙂