A rental walk-through is a no-brainer when it comes to signing a lease to take possession of a house or apartment. If you hope to get your deposit back, you have to be able to show that you have done no damage to the premises during your stay. Your landlord should give you a checklist so you can note anything that is damaged, missing or not working properly, but if they don't (or even if they do) double check to be sure you aren't going to be stuck paying for something that was already broken when you moved in.
Whether you have an individual landlord or are renting from a property management company, you need to protect yourself. Even the smallest imperfection could come back to haunt you alter if it isn’t noted as existing prior to your move in date. It is best to conduct a walk through with the owner or property manager present – if they are unavailable, get it in writing that you have a week to turn in your checklist, and insist on having it signed by them and a copy provided to you as soon as possible. You should also take pictures of the entire house, in and out – making note of any problem areas so you can prove undisputedly that they were trouble when you moved in, not something caused by you. Covering all the bases is the best way to ensure that you get your security deposit back, whether you are renting a house or an apartment. Once you have obtained a signed copy of your annotated checklist from the landlord, put it, your notes and the pictures you took (if you have a digital camera, you can transfer the pictures to a disc) in a manila envelope and store it in a safe place so you will be easily able to find it when you are ready to move out. Then you can insist on a walkthrough of the property with the owner or manager again and arrange to have your deposit refunded to you.