Sep 29, 2012

Apartment Living - Part VI

So you've read all of the parts on the Apartment Living page of this blog, but have decided that it is time to move out. The key question on your mind is "how do I get my security deposit back?!? I NEED that money..." Some suggestions, because most landlords look at how much work needs to be done before they can "re-rent" the unit. The cleaner it is left and the less amount of work to refresh it, the more $$$ returned. Keep in mind that the security deposit will not likely be returned the day of a move out, but within a month after. It all depends on what needs to be done to give the keys to the next resident.

First, we need to understand what a security deposit is, and then how it applies. The best way to define what a security deposit is, can be found on Wikipedia [link], but I'm going to summarize it as to it applies to living in an apartment.
A security deposit is a sum of money held in trust...  to ensure the cost of repair in relation to any damage explicitly specified in the contract and that did in fact occur.
Basically it is money that the landlord/property manager uses to pay for the revitalization of an apartment when vacated, the resident is "pre-paying" it. Know up front, not ALL of the deposit is given back, so here are some suggestions on maximizing the amount of the security deposit to get back:
  1. Scrub the vinyl floors. Not just sweep with a broom, but scrub the floors.
  2. Pull out the refrigerator and stove and clean everything that has collected under them.
  3. Wash the sides of the fridge and stove.
  4. Clean the oven, stove top elements, knobs, inside the fridge, sinks, and all countertops.
  5. Vacuum the carpets or get a carpet cleaner to do it for you. Yes, it costs a little to do that, but you'll pay for it regardless.
  6. Scrub the tubs, showers, and toilets.
  7. Patch the nail holes from all of the pictures/art you hung up.
  8. Clean under where your washer and dryer were, if you had them.
  9. Wipe down the baseboards as dust and dirt has likely built up.
  10. Run a broom along the ceiling to remove the cobwebs.
  11. Take all of your "stuff" with you. Leaving items in the cupboards or even just in the room causes a lot of work for the people revitalizing the unit.
Basically, do a spring cleaning the way grandma did "back in the day." First impressions are important, so the first time the landlord/property manager inspects a vacant apartment, the more that is likely to be given back. As mentioned, it won't be ALL issued back, there are some things that will be deducted from the security deposit, and there might be an invoice if it costs more than was put down. Those things typically are for fees like:
  • A cleaning person to do what you should have done (listed above).
  • Replacing carpet or vinyl due to excessive stains or tears.
  • Professional carpet cleaners to deep clean the rug.
  • Repairing things that are broken (doorknobs, doors, baseboards, counters, appliances).
  • Excessive plastering needed for holes in the walls.
  • Removing oil or other fluid stains on the garage floor.
  • Having to hire a professional painter if you changed the colors of the walls (read the lease on this one, it can be costly if it is not returned to the original look).
Typically there is a MOVE OUT inspection, and a MOVE IN inspection to survey the property. Anything that shows up during those inspections is noted, and the person responsible is charged. The key point here, is that the more diligence a resident takes while moving out, the more of the security deposit they will get back...

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