You’re moving– whether to a new apartment or into the world of home ownership. But wait, you put down a sizable amount of money when you moved in that you may or may not get back. Here’s some tips that can be useful to help ensure that you get your security deposit refunded.
Cleaning is the number one reason that people don’t get their security deposit refunded. Many apartment complexes will give you a cleaning fee schedule when you’re about to move out, or they may just state that the cleaning rate is $X/hr, with $X being triple the market rate for cleaning. Some complexes won’t even break out charges, rather they will just keep your security deposit and claim it went towards cleaning. The most common items you should clean are listed below.
Bathrooms – The tub/shower, toilet and sinks are the main culprits to clean. Make sure they are all spotless and without stains or stray hairs. Think of what a nice hotel room bathroom looks like, and try to match that level of cleanliness.
Kitchen – The two biggest kitchen appliances are also the leading cause of not getting a security deposit refunded. Ovens need to be cleaned with spray on oven cleaner following the directions on the label. Don’t wait until the last minute to do this, as it may need to be done multiple times to effectively clean all of the oven’s baked on grime. Refrigerators should be emptied and cleaned using bleach. Dishwashers shouldn’t have any debris in the bottom or anything that makes it look generally dirty. If you have a built in microwave, make sure you clean all 6 sides on the inside, as well as under the rotating table where dirt likes to hide.
Every Other Room – Most other rooms are simpler, since they don’t have frequently used appliances or fixtures. Vacuum (and carpet cleaner if necessary) and clean interior windows.
Patio – Porches and patios are always overlooked. Check your move out sheet to ensure that you won’t get charged for weeding your patio area and removing any plants or decorations.
Holes in Walls or Doors – Some people have anger issues, while others can tend to be clumsy after a late night out. Either way, you can patch holes in your walls fairly easily.
Cabinets – Did you accidentally break a door while cooking? Depending on the style of the door, you may be able to patch the cabinetry, otherwise you’re looking for a replacement. If it is just a hinge that’s bad, so the door hangs incorrectly and doesn’t shut, see how to replace a cabinet hinge.
Painting – You may think you’re the next Michelangelo, but your landlord probably doesn’t. Unless you have specific permission to leave your walls painted, they should be restored to the same color as when you moved in.
After You’re Done
Once you’ve restored your apartment to a move-in-ready-state, go through the apartment and video record/photograph the state you are leaving it in. This way if someone claims you didn’t do X, and you did, you can show proof that you did. You should also do the same upon move in at your new residence, so as to have a move in vs move out comparison.
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