Thanks to my boundless experience moving in and out of rental homes, I am sharing my tried-and-true tips for getting your whole deposit back as part of a sponsored post for Socialstars. #ZepSocialstars
Once all of your furniture and personal effects are gone from a house, it seems as though every speck of dirt, dust, mold, crayon, and strand of hair that you’ve encountered since moving in all come back at the same time in some apocalyptic dust-zombie raid. It’s enough to leave you reeling. The plight of every renter in the history of ever is to leave their rental just acceptable enough so that they get their deposit back once they’re gone, without having to bend over backwards to get that to happen. Moving is stressful enough, but having to worry about leaving the place better than it was when you found it just adds to the stress and frustration of the already overwhelming process.
We’ve moved enough in the last 7 years to know exactly what it feels like to try to pack up then clean the mess out of a place. It’s incredible the things that accumulate inside cabinets, in cracks, on baseboards, on floors, and in places you are certain didn’t even exist when you moved into the house in the first place.
There are a few simple things you can do as you prepare to pack up and move, to get your rental ready for final inspection and assure you get your deposit back.
Fill All The Holes
I used to have a landlord that wouldn’t let you nail things into the walls. It was a stark place, that little duplex. My next place docked me $300 for holes in the walls. When I say holes in the walls, I literally mean a few nail holes where I had hung my priceless works of art. I swear to you there were no punched-in holes in my walls. I learned quickly after that how important it was to learn to wield a spackle knife loaded with the finest spackle this side of the International Divide. It’s not a difficult process and spackle is relatively inexpensive. We’ve had the same bucket of spackle for the last 4 years. I don’t know how it’s not all dried out yet, but it’s not.
You simply take some spackle out of the tub, patch the hole, allow to dry, sand with fine sandpaper, then paint with touch-up paint.
Voila! You have a filled hole for significantly less than they would have charged you to fix it.
Cost to repair: Approx. $12
Spot Paint the Walls
Most rental properties will leave behind a bit of spot paint. If yours doesn’t have it, you can scrape some paint off of the walls and take it to a paint store for them to color match. An inexpensive roller brush and a gallon of paint should be enough to hit all the spots that need to be covered up. Before painting, hit all the dirty areas with a wall spot eraser. If those spots still need some help, use a small roller brush to paint over the spots. The Landlord may or may not come back and paint the whole house, but painting over the crayon on the wall from your little Crayola wall artist will make the walls look much, much nicer and leave a much better impression on your landlord.
Cost to repair: Approx $20
I don’t know about your house, but in my house, the baseboards are grossly ignored. About once a year, I realize that they’ve turned grey and I send one of the kids out into the wild with a bucket of water, white vinegar, and a rag to wipe the baseboards. My knees can only handle so much.
Seriously, though, some hot water with a few tablespoons of vinegar and a nice microfiber cloth make pretty quick work of the baseboards. Unless they were crusty when you moved in, you really should take the extra time to make sure they’re spotless when you move out.
Our dog went through a phase where she loved chewing walls and baseboards, so we also had to use some wood putty on our baseboards then sand them down and paint them white. Luckily, you can no longer tell she craved splinters for a week last summer.
Cost to repair: $2.98 for wood putty
Dust and/or Replace the Blinds
When we moved in, the blinds in the kids bedroom were those cheap plastic ones. They were weathered and dry rotted from the Florida sun and I think I’m probably correct when I assume the fact that they were here when the house was built in the late 90s. It took them about 8 seconds to crack the ends off of about 23 different slats. Lovely. Luckily, those blinds are very inexpensive and easy to replace.
The rest of the house had lovely wooden blinds. I keep them dusted once a month, but remembering to dust them just before you leave means one less thing the owners have to do when you move out, and one less thing they can charge you for when deciding whether or not to keep your deposit.
Cost: Varies; $24 for two mini blinds for kids room
Spot Clean The Carpet
Some leases require that you have the carpet professionally cleaned before you leave. Whether or not your lease mandates that you clean the carpets, you should do the spot cleaning on your own. Grady went to town on the carpet with my new ink stamp, which was awesome. I got as much up with water and a microfiber cloth as I could, then used a Zep Instant Spot Remover Towel to blot the rest of the stain up out of the carpet. When you pay someone to clean your carpets, they charge you extra to remove stubborn stains. When you have the right tools at your disposal, you don’t have to worry about paying extra to have those stains removed.
Zep Instant Spot Remover Towels are great for maintenance of your carpet and upholstery. Pet sick on the floor? Kids draw in marker on the carpet? Drop a dollop of oily salad dressing on the dining room rug? Zep Instant Spot Remover Towels work quickly to dissolve and remove stains from grease, food, pets, and more.
After you’ve soaked up excess liquid and wiped away any loose soil with a microfiber cloth, apply the Instant Spot Towel directly onto the offending spot. Blot and work the towel into the spot until soil transfers to the towel.
These instant spot removers are great to keep around the house at all times to maintain the integrity and life of your carpet and upholstery. After a party, when you’ve got pets or kids, and for any of life’s other little messes, they are a simple, effective way to keep things clean enough to sleep on.
Cost to Repair: $8.97 for Zep Commercial Instant Spot Remover Towels from Home Depot, more for professional carpet cleaning.
Clean the Base of the Toilets
I’ll never forget losing out on $200 for not cleaning the base of two toilets in a house in St. Augustine. Two hundred dollars. That’s a lot of money when you’re waiting tables for a living. Make sure you use a disinfectant to clean the base of the toilets, from the grout all the way up to the seat.
Cost to Clean: Free
Wipe out the Cabinets
It is mind boggling how much hair, dust, and food you’re certain you never ate can accumulate inside a cabinet. Once you’ve packed all of your belongings away, it takes about 15 minutes to wipe the cabinets out with a warm, wet rag to make sure you don’t leave anything offensive behind for the next tenants.
Cost to Clean: Free
Total Costs To Repair: Under $70
Taking these simple steps to ensure the house is clean when you leave will make it extremely more likely that you will get your deposit back when you vacate. It just takes a little time, some elbow grease, and the right products, like Zep Commercial products from Home Depot, to leave your rental in better shape than it was in when you found it.