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Tips to Ensure You Get Your Security Deposit Back

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security deposit

My Daughters Move A Lot

If you have kids that rent, you have probably put down a security deposit. My two daughters have moved in and out of a dozen places. Each time, they were zinged for repairs that came out of the security deposit. Some they could have easily fixed on their own; some, well they deserved to be charged. Apartment managers are notorious for finding many little forgotten items to charge exorbitant fees.

When they moved into an apartment in NYC in 2019, they knew to photograph and time stamp EVERYTHING from mismatched paint on the walls to stains. I was the personal guarantor of their apartment. HaveUHeard that the rent to income ratio in NYC is approximately 40 times the monthly rent? That means for an apartment that costs $3,000 per month, the renters’ gross income should be $120K per year. A guarantor typically has to make between 80 to 100 times the monthly rent.

I was vested in getting back the one-month security deposit, which I am happy to say we got back the entire amount. Based on the many move-outs I have helped my daughters with, I am sharing my tips to make sure their place is security deposit spotless. And yes, daughters are messier than sons in most instances based on my daughter’s and what I have heard from my other mom-friends.

Ways to Get Your Money Back

There is a way to get the security deposit back but it will require a little effort, here is how we can help you. I have personally been through four dorm move-outs (summer and fall for two daughters) and eight apartment move-outs. And yes, there has been plenty of move-out charges ranging from the burned desk chair in a dorm room (courtesy of a hair appliance), to dirty stovetop drip pans (yes some apartment managers will charge you for that).

Hopefully, you have included EVERYTHING in the move-in form they gave you (make a copy of this form) AND took plenty of time stamp photos of EVERYTHING! And by everything, we mean mismatched paint on the walls (from other tenants or landlord filling in holes and retouching up without painting the whole apartment), food stuck between stove and countertop (I promise you that when my daughter moved into her apartments, there was more dried up food in that small space which we had them come out and clean), stains on any carpet that may be in the apartment, dusty blinds, dirt inside the refrigerator and oven, bathtub, toilets, cleaning the dryer lint screen, even hair along the baseboards… EVERYTHING!

Cleaning Hacks For A Spot Clean Apartment

There is an apartment cleaner on TikTok that goes by the name @brittoreppy21 that shares some great advice as well as recommending products she uses. If you do not have TikTok, here are some of the products she recommends:

For the Oven

  • Oven Cleaner – or baking soda (½ cup baking soda and 3 tbsp water- let the paste sit for 15-20 minutes and then wipe off with wet paper towels or use a 3:1 mixture of water and distilled vinegar on a paper towel to wipe clean).
  • Oven Liner – We would actually recommend your student using these at the start of their lease.
  • Stove Top drip pans – My D and her roommates got charged a total of $30.00 to replace four pans. You can buy them at Walmart for a lot less.
  • Remind your student to clean the bottom drawer too.

For the Refrigerator

The refrigerator is probably the last thing I regularly clean. Take a closer look and you can see the splatters and drippings from foods on the shelves and in the drawers. A good solution is putting paper towels, or refrigerator bin liners, in the drawer to absorb some of the juices from fruits and veggies that may either be going bad or just “sweating” a bit. I change these monthly. Again some good old-fashioned baking soda and water or vinegar works and honestly, you wouldn’t want to use anything harsh smelling inside of your refrigerator. Using Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (they even sell them in sheets now) works wonders on the stuck-on foods.

Patching Holes

Yes, small holes happen from all the decorating. They must patch those holes left by nails, tacks, and screws. This requires three items: spackling paste, a putty knife, and some sandpaper. Squeeze a small glob of the spackle into each hole, then use the putty knife to spread and blend it over the hole and wall. Once the spackle is dry, use the sandpaper to lightly sand the area, especially around the edges, to leave a smooth, flat wall.

HaveUHeard that you can also use plain white toothpaste or baking soda mixed with white glue to fill nail holes and a plastic knife in place of a putty knife? I recommend this as a last-minute resort in case they totally forgot to do the repairs in advance and the apartment manager is coming over to inspect the room. This is one of the main deductions from a security deposit.

Scratches on the Floors

Let’s face it- most apartments are using hardwood floors these days because they are much easier to clean than carpet. The problem is they get scratches.  You will want to get a wood-colored marker or pencil at the hardwood store and try to disguise the scrapes. For fewer deep scratches, HaveUHeard that rubbing a raw walnut over the scrape until the scratch blends into the rest of the floor? This only works on surface-scratches tbh.

Additional Tips

Don’t forget to replace lightbulbs.

Now, after you have cleaned and fixed and patched and scrubbed, take time-stamped pictures of EVERYTHING.  Apartment managers are notorious for charging you for repairs. With the proper documentation, you should be able to mitigate the charges yourself. Hopefully, you kept a copy of the paperwork outlining any damages when you moved in. At the very least, you will have plenty of documentation should you have to end up in small claims court.

Of course, you could also hire a cleaning company to come in and do all the cleaning for you (they do not do repairs so make sure those you do yourself)

Must Buy Cleaning Products

Perhaps make it a little easier and get the basic cleaning supplies. An investment of $20.00 will help mitigate some much larger charges upon move out.

If they have a roommate, they can share the cost of a vacuum cleaner and a bucket and mop or Swiffer which they can use for both dusting and washing the floor.

For some other kitchen and bathroom cleaning hacks, we share these tips from thekitchn.

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2021-05-20T11:04:16-04:000 Comments

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