A “security deposit” is an amount of money the tenant gives to the landlord when the tenancy begins. What the security deposit actually covers depends on what the agreement specifically states it covers. So make sure the rental agreement specifically states what it covers. For example a security deposit clause may state it can be used to cover unpaid rent, damage to the premises, or cleaning charges.
When trying to get your security deposit back, some landlords refuse to return all or parts of the security deposit, knowing that it is difficult for a tenant who has moved away to return and sue. So when you move out, clean the premises and then ask the landlord to tour the premises with you so you can work out any issues then and there.
After you vacate the premises, you might not be able to get back in to verify your claim, especially if another tenant has already taken possession. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to sue in small claims. If the landlord refuses to return your security deposit you can sue for breach of contract. Some states, such as California, even allow you to recover extra damages if yoy can show the landlord withheld the deposit “in bad faith.”