Living away from home is a life-changing experience that opens up your world to a new lifestyle. However, there’s a lot of things to do when your lease expires and you need to return the keys to your landlord. To ensure a smooth handover and get your security deposit back in full, consider completing these 10 things that many tenants frequently miss out.
#1: Paint over stains on the walls
Yellow patches over white walls are easy to spot, and very often landlords may take issue at having to remove them at their own cost. As such, they may engage expensive cleaning specialists to do an extensive cleanup, deducting the cost of the service from your security deposit.
The cheapest way to clear out stains is to apply a fresh coat of paint. If you have paint that matches the original color, then all you need to do is a bit of touch up. Otherwise, you’ll need to spend a few hours painting that section of the wall, or get an odd-job worker to do it at an affordable rate.
#2: Sun your mattress to remove musty odors
If your place came fully furnished, you’ll need to remove the mattress in the same condition that you received it. If you haven’t been airing your bedroom, your mattress might have a stale musty smell. Luckily, the sun is a natural antibacterial agent that removes foul smells and kills bacteria at the same time.
Leave the mattress out to sun on a hot day for at least 3 hours, then flip it over for another round. Your mattress will come out smelling as fresh as the day you moved in.
#3: Wash the curtains in the living and bedrooms
As the gateway to the dust and smells from the outside world, curtains stain and absorb smells very easily. Before handing over your apartment, send the curtains to a reliable laundromat to get it dry-cleaned or washed.
If you’re tight on time, find one that helps to take down and put up the curtains. Especially if you’re living alone, handling all these is certainly a tall order!
#4: Tighten the screws on creaking or rattling chairs
Usually the result of loose screws or a joint that needs a bit of oil, fixing creaking or rattling sounds on furniture involves an easy fix. Don’t give your landlord a chance to replace his furniture using your security deposit, because the cost difference can be huge!
Also, give your furniture a good wipedown to clean out the accumulated dust. Nothing makes a landlord happier (and more forgiving) than seeing his or her place returned in good order.
#5: Remove coffee stains on the dining table
Accidents happen, and over many months of use, stains may appear on the table and other surfaces. Try to use conventional techniques to remove these stains, so you don’t have to fork out extra to hire a professional to do the job.
If you need help, here are some tips that might work on common stains.
#6: Get your maintenance paperwork in order
Your tenancy agreement may state that you need to get an air-conditioning repairman to perform an inspection regularly, or engage a cleaner to mop the floor prior to returning the apartment. If you need to do these things, make sure you have the invoices on hand as evidence, or you may end up paying for an expensive professional from your security deposit.
#7: Patch up tears in the upholstery
If your sofa or curtains sport minor tears, a simple 5-minute patch up with a needle and some thread can save you an expensive repair job. You’ll need to make it blend in though, so use thread of the same colour, stitched together with small needlework. This is why paying attention during home economics class is so important!
#8: Return all the keys that came with the apartment
Your landlord might have handed you a whole bunch of keys, which include the ones for the shoebox, the back door, the side gate, the maintenance panel etc. Keep those safe, as you can’t duplicate and replace a key that you’ve lost. In the worst case, you’ll need to break and replace the lock, which is a huge amount of effort and cost for something that can be easily avoided.
#9: Destroy any ant trails and insect nests
Unless your apartment has an extensive jungle theme, ant trails and insect nests are never desirable. If you can follow the trail, find the source of the ants and spray some insecticide a few weeks before the handover. You should also get rid of cobwebs behind cupboards and in dark corners of the house, before your landlord freaks out about clearing an insect infestation.
#10: Repair any broken appliances or replace them with working ones
If you can do a spot of DIY repairs, try fixing broken appliances like sealing the leaking pipe from a washing machine, or replacing the flickering lightbulb in the ceiling lamp. Otherwise, ask if you can replace the broken appliance with one that you’ll purchase yourself. You can probably find cheaper alternatives listed on an online marketplace or at a garage sale. If your landlord were to buy a replacement using the money from your security deposit, you can be sure it’s going to be a spanking new one.
A lot of things can go wrong when returning a rented apartment, but generally most landlords just want to be assured that you’ve taken good care of their place. Maintain a good relationship with them, and show that you’ve put in some effort to keep things neat and tidy. That should be enough to get your security deposit back in full!