BEFORE YOU MOVE IN – Walk Through
Before you move into a rented Home or Apartment, be sure to do a walk-through with the owner or property manager. Why? Because when you move out, the landlord may charge you for “damages” to the unit. What defines damages is often contested. The move-in-checklist (here) will help identify what the unit was like when you moved in.
General rule of thumb – are you leaving the unit in the same condition as when you moved in? Again take pictures and have the landlord or property manager agree to the condition.
Normal Wear and Tear is vague term and means different things to different people. So protect yourself.
WHEN YOU MOVE IN OR MOVE OUT
Take pictures – use a disposable camera, a video camera or your phone camera. Pictures are worth a thousand words and therefore, dollars. Sign and date the pictures and save them in case your landlord does not return your security deposit.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO CLEAN AN APARTMENT
The average cost to clean an average apartment is $175 for the full job. (A home will be more) If you do not have time, consider hiring a cleaning service. Additional fees may be charged for cleaning a stove, refrigerator, hauling trash, couches, damaged carpets and more.
Normal Wear and Tear – What does it include
Normal Wear and Tear may include things such as:
Faded Paint – you yourself did not cause the paint to fade, thus you would not be responsible if and when the landlord decides to repaint.
DAMAGES are actual things in the apartment that you or your guests actually break – such as a window or a hole in the wall.
HOW DAMAGES ARE CALCULATED
One common method of calculating the deduction for replacement prorates the total cost of replacement so that the tenant pays only for the remaining useful life of the item that the tenant has damaged or destroyed.
The Carpet Example
Suppose a tenant has damaged beyond repair an 8 old carpet that had a life expectancy of ten years, and that a replacement carpet of similar quality would cost $1,000.
Learn more on CARPET DAMAGE here
NORMAL WEAR – What it includes
Faded Paint:. Paint may have a “useful life of 2-3 years, depending on who you ask. However, if you paint with a better paint, wiping down the walls works well.
Carpet: Old, worn carpet when you moved in or furniture marks in carpet. The natural wearing down of carpet or drapes because of normal use or aging.
Doors:Worn hinges on doors or locks. Hole or ding in wall from missing door stop. Check each door.
Broken Plumbing: Pipes, unless you damaged them. Central drain problems, not caused by your incorrect disposal of items. Older homes with old sewer lines may get roots growing through them, clogging the system. These are usually normal.
Dusty blinds no. Broken blinds, yes. Broken strings may be aged, bent blinds means you, your pet or kids were playing with them and damaged them.
General dust in the apartment. Be sure to clean behind the sofa and under.A general rule is the unit should be left “broom clean”.
Bulb that went out in the refrigerator. In general, if you remove the light bulbs (and people do) you will be charged. A light bulb out in most cases no. Broken light fixtures, you may be charged. Like if your cat was swing on the chandelier.
TYPICAL DAMAGES in RENTALS – BEYOND NORMAL WEAR
HOLES in wall
Holes from hanging pictures, removal of decals on the walls. Fist marks and body prints. Larger gouges etc.
Doors with holes or windows broken. Off hinges or tracks. Broken Glass etc. Closet Doors. Missing doors. Think we are nuts when we mention these – we are not!
Drains caused by misuse of sinks or toilets. Women tenants (college girls for example) may need to be reminded to dispose of feminine products in the trash, not the toilet.
BLINDS – CURTAINS
Blinds and curtains – If they were there when you moved in, they must be there when you leave. If you don’t want them, discuss this with your landlord. If he says “I don’t care” send him a letter to confirm…as we discussed. Otherwise, you will be charged for missing or damaged blinds.
FLEA INFESTATIONS – BED BUGS
Flea problems caused by tenant’s animals or failure to keep the unit. Read more about BED BUGS here
Smoke damage from smoking or burning candles. Extra cleaning is required to remove both smells and cleaning of walls / ceilings to be repainted. The stains on the walls from smoking, well think about the inside of your body!
EXCESSIVE BATHROOM MILDEW
Use a good cleaning product like Tilex, Spray 409 weekly. Read the label and make sure it won’t damage the finish in your particular bathroom.
Broken shelves in a refrigerator. Excessive dirt/dust in the refrigerator vents. This the area under or behind the unit. Vacuuming improves performance. Every time you vacuum, vacuum around the unit. Defrost the refrigerator if not frost-free. If you cannot afford to replace a refrigerator that is old, there may be a program available to replace. Check with your utility or affordable housing service. Goes for both landlord and tenant.
Excessive dirt or filth. Stoves can take 2-3 hours to clean. Use Easy-off. That’s why the named it that.