Tips on Getting Your Security Deposit Back From Your Apartment Rental

It is always a point of contention; once you have moved out, you expect to get your security deposit back in full-just as you gave it to the Landlord. On move out day, you take a look around your now former apartment. Everything looks good. Well, maybe a small mark on the wall here and there. And maybe you could have cleaned out the refrigerator a little better. But hey it does not cost that much to make an apartment nice again. Does it?

One of the hardest costs for Landlords to absorb is painting. On the open market, try finding a painter who could repaint your apartment for less than $500! Fortunately, apartment complexes typically have in-house maintenance staff that can do the work for less than market labor value. The costs are, more than likely, even less to the Tenant. Still, Landlords are stuck with having to absorb materials costs which remain the same regardless of any particular circumstance.

So if you have made many marks on walls, have a child(ern) that has used something other than a water soluble substance on walls, or just been careless with hanging things and moving furniture around, then chances are you will get hit with a full paint-out bill. After so many marks and scratches, it is no longer worth it nor all that possible to do a “touch-up” job.

Some common ways to mark up walls include:

  • headboards from beds
  • sofas pressed snug against walls
  • televisions pressed closely to walls (for cathode ray tubes)
  • dogs and cats scratching or rubbing against corners
  • children throwing toys or playing off walls
  • rearranging furniture, especially in the living room and bedroom
  • buying new furniture-especially when you first move-in. It is easy to forget that from day one if your movers are not careful or you are not, you could have many marks and scratches.

Another cost is floor cleaning. If there is hardwood flooring involved, and you were not that careful moving in or moving out your furniture, it can cost anywhere from $1 to $3 per square foot just to sand and refinish! Simply putting another coat of polyurethane can do the trick, however, if the damage was extensive, it will bleed through and look bad for the next Tenant-who may even get blamed for some one else’s damages! Also, if there are pets involved, this is particularly risky to the Landlord. Unlike carpeting, getting urine and urine and feces smells out of hardwood flooring is extremely difficult.
Of course, the extreme measure is to replace the parts of the floor that are really bad. That can get a bit pricey plus make the flooring look uneven and nonuniform.

For carpeting, it is much easier to maintain and clean even though the wear is faster. As a Tenant, it can be worth it to you to find a professional carpet cleaner. Typically, you can find one for between $80 to $300. If you leave it to the Landlord, expect to be charged. When you move out, it is easy to forget that the apartment was cleaned and prepared for you, and the Landlord owes that courtesy to the next Tenant.

So next time you are wondering why you have not gotten that security deposit back, remember the two biggest costs to reviving the apartment, put yourself in the Landlord’s shoes, and then start calculating.

How to Negotiate When Renting an Apartment

Renting an Apartment is Like Interviewing for a Job

When you are looking at apartments, it is almost like a job interview because the owner or agent is looking to pick the best tenant for this rental unit. The agent wants someone who will help keep up the value of the apartment. Here are some tips to help you get to the top of the line.

Look the part

You need to dress the part of a responsible person who will take good care of the apartment. You don’t need to wear a suit, but you should look neat and wear nice casual attire. As they say, you don’t have a second chance to make a first impression.

Act the part

Just like an interview, a firm (but not too firm) handshake is in order when you introduce yourself. Be sure to look the agent/owner in the eye and smile. I like to make some nice comment, like “what a view!” or “what a nice garden!” or something else positive. The agent will give you his/her card. I like to give my business card. It is a handy way to give my contact information and it shows again that I am a responsible person that can be entrusted with an apartment.

Be observant and ask questions

It is a lot better to see the apartment’s problems or flaws before you move in. If you see a water spot or suspect there may be flooding, ask questions about it. If the apartment is near the road, see if you can hear traffic. You should look at the unit with the same diligence you would use if you were considering buying the unit. If you see something, point it out and ask whether it will be fixed before you move in. It is a lot easier to get something fixed before you move in than after!

Visualize yourself in this apartment

I like to visualize myself living in the apartment. This helps because sometimes I can either be too critical or overlook major flaws in the apartment. If I really like a unit, there can be a halo effect so that I don’t see any flaws, until it may be too late. Drive through the neighborhood and see if there are people on the street. Do they wave to you? I find it comforting to know my neighbors are friendly. How far away is the grocery store? How close is the nearest restaurant? You are not just renting an apartment, but you are really renting a neighborhood. Trust your instincts. If there is a problem, try to resolve it or walk away.

If you don’t like something, speak up

Is there something about the apartment you don’t like? Is it perfect except for just one thing? Then speak up. For example, I looked at a rental condo that I really liked. It was spacious and close to the beach. However, it had an ugly old shag carpet that was burnt orange and even covered the steps to the second floor. When I was visualizing myself in this apartment, I just could not get past this shag carpet from the 70’s. Finally I thought, “what do I have to lose?” I am not going to take the condo in its present condition. I asked the realtor if it would be possible to replace the rug. Apparently others had complained as well and the realtor said “yes,” after consulting with the owners. I rented the condo with a nice new tan carpet that matched my furniture and was very happy. I know I would have been miserable if I had to deal with the orange run on a daily basis!

Follow these tips and you will be negotiating like a pro

Things to Consider When Decorating a Small Apartment

Small apartments can provide a nice, cozy feel for its inhabitants as well as for those who come to visit. The space constraints require a need for creativity and careful arranging when decorating a small apartment. There are a few things to keep in mind when considering how to decorate a small living space:

  • Do careful measurements, especially in the living room to make sure the furniture is suited for an apartment. An oversized couch, for instance, can make the living room look and feel too cramped. The same is also true for kitchen sets and beds, as big furniture can detract from the living space and make it harder to comfortably maneuver through the room.
  • Minimize the amount of accessory furniture in the common rooms, particularly the living room area. A small living room can look bigger if it is not filled with a lot of unnecessary furniture. One or two small, round coffee tables decorated with a lace and topped with a nice figurine add a somewhat stylish, yet uncomplicated look to a living room space.
  • Use bright, neutral color paint to decorate the rooms, especially in the kitchen, living room and bathrooms. Vibrant tones really open up the area and give the illusion of spaciousness, which can be very helpful in a small apartment. Earthy tones make it easier to choose furniture and household items to accentuate the room.
  • Choose good lighting to brighten up some rooms and give others a softer, cozier effect. Small kitchens are hard to navigate, but good lighting with attractive fixtures can help to make things look bright and roomier. Small bathrooms with bright, attractive lighting fixtures can help to accentuate tight bathroom spaces as well.
  • One of the advantages of small apartments is that there is not a lot of space to fill up, so it can be easier to choose a few, nicely detailed decorative items to highlight each room. This is a good way to keep clutter to a minimum and give each room a “less is more” focus. A nice, fitted bedroom set with colorful, decorative accents positioned well or a small, stylish kitchen set with uncluttered storage areas can give living spaces a pleasant touch.

There are several things to consider when decorating a small apartment space, including color scheme, size of the furniture and lighting accents. A small space can be challenging to furnish, but careful measurements and wisely chosen furniture makes all of the difference. Small space can look a lot bigger than it is with all of the home d├ęcor components in place.