4 Cleaning Mistakes We All Make Moving Out of a Rental

It’s bad enough to have to worry about packing up and moving to a new apartment, but one of the most annoying situations occurs when you finally have the truck securely loaded but you can’t leave until you get your former apartment in decent enough condition so that you can get your security deposit back. You need to be as organized about the final clean-up as you were about your move, and following are four things to consider:

Fill Out That Property Condition Form

Moving in is a hassle, and some of us are just stressed and burnt, so the last thing we want to do is handle more paperwork and fill out the landlord’s property condition form. If you neglect to do that, however, you will have no record of the property’s condition at move-in. Therefore, when your landlord looks at your apartment after you have tidied up and sees that 12-inch gouge in the hardwood floor, he or she may not believe you when you report that it was there when you moved in. Yes, you can sue your landlord for security deposit funds that have been unlawfully withheld, but you need evidence. Before you do anything, fill out the property condition form, make a copy and give it to your landlord. If no form is provided to you, make up your own, note any property defects, and make sure you have proof that you have presented the facts to your landlord before you move in. This will protect you later if you have a dispute.

Amateur Cleaning

You probably got professional help to load the cube, van or truck that carried your belongings to your new place, and you should consider professional cleaning help. $150 or $200 might be the best money you have spent as pro cleaners know how to make your apartment look great.

Understand What is Necessary

Most states and municipalities have tenant help lines, and these services can give you guidance when you ask questions like:

  • Do I need to repaint?
  • Do I need to clean the carpets?
  • Do I have to fix that hole in the wall?

Check your local laws and consult with an attorney if necessary, but most cities and towns do not allow landlords to withhold security deposits for “normal wear and tear.” In Austin, TX, for example, landlords typically cannot charge tenants for repainting. Yes, holes in the walls must be filled, but apartments do need to be repainted regularly, and tenants many times are not responsible for the cost.

Correct Chemicals

Hardwood floors like some cleaners and hate others, and they show their displeasure by looking dull, dirty and cloudy. It’s often more work to clean up the disaster caused by using the wrong cleaning product than by doing it correctly the first time. Ask your landlord for advice when you choose cleaning products.

Unless you want to give your previous landlord a big security deposit gift, resist the temptation to do a quick once-over cleaning job. Do a little research, to find out exactly what is necessary, use the proper materials and/or get professional help, and you will be able to look forward to a nice check in the mail.

Sam Radbil is an author at ABODO Apartments, an apartment marketplace website that makes apartment hunting easier for people all across the country. Check out their available apartments in Houston, Texas and follow along on Twitter at @ABODOapts.