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.