A few hours left before I give the keys back to the landlord, what should I spend my time on? We’ve all been there and we’d love to help. Let’s get you as much of the security deposit back as we can. After analyzing all the charges from recent move-outs, here’s our breakdown of the most common expenses we withhold from security deposits.

  1. Cleaning- Now this may seem like an obvious suggestion, but you’ll be surprised how much companies can charge for cleaning a home! On average, of our last 15 move-outs, we have had to withhold $370 for cleaning the property. That’s a lot of money from your deposit! The best way to ensure your security deposit doesn’t get used for cleaning is to hire professional cleaners and to submit the receipts to your Property Manager to add to your file. But, you can also clean the property thoroughly yourself so that our cleaners will spend less time getting it ready to rerent and save significantly on the costs deducted.
  2. Lightbulbs and Smoke Alarms- This one is a surprise to most people, but if there are burned-out lightbulbs, or missing smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, we have to dispatch one of our handyman vendors to go out to the property and replace them. This might not seem like a big deal, but the costs can add up quickly when there’s a minimum service call charge from the vendor, so save yourself some dollars and check the property for lightbulbs, batteries, and alarms needing replacing before you go! A typical charge for time and materials is $10/lightbulb and $30/detector.
  3. Touchup Paint- If you choose to mount pictures or shelving on your walls while you are renting to make the space your own, a reminder that one of the first things we have to do before renting the unit again is to patch and paint those holes. Grab a container of lightweight spackle and give a quick skim coat over those holes! Once that dries you can give a quick touchup to the wall if you have the matching paint on site. Be careful as the sheen can be different from a couple of years of light exposure, so you may need to get more paint and go wall to wall so it’ll look good as new and save you (on average) $140 from your security deposit. (Reach out to your property manager if you have any trouble matching the wall color or bring in a small piece to be matched at your local hardware store)
  4. Replace Furnace Filter- This one is easy, but still can cost about $20 for our handyman to replace and every penny counts, right? Grab a replacement from the store and pop it into the furnace before you leave.
  5. Take all your things- If you leave anything behind in closets, drawers, or in the garage, we have to dispatch our junk hauling company to dispose of those items before we can proceed with turning the property for the next tenant, which can be a costly expense. Unfortunately, that pile of trash and furniture left in the alley will likely never get picked up, so we’ll need to send someone to haul it to the dump. The free category on craigslist proves that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure 😉

And there you have it! Our top 5 items to think about before you vacate your rental property to help make sure you get as much of your security deposit back as possible. Happy moving!