Everyone has encounter at least once in their lifetimes a homeowner who wasn’t especially fond of giving their deposit back once they announced they were leaving. Like an angry ex, they would hold on your stuff to get back to you. Sometimes they want to use it for cleaning and repairing the property even if you hadn’t damaged it, sometimes they just got greedy and other times, let’s face it, you have really messed-up the place.
In the first two case-scenarios, there’s not much you can do besides demanding your deposit back and, if you get a negative response, sue them. The procedure will depend on the specific laws of your region, so we won’t get into that today.
What we want to show you is how to easily clean the uncleanable and repair the irreparable so they won’t have any excuses to hold on to your money. Let’s get started.
1. Clean & Declutter
Seriously: many people forget to leave a rental property how they found it, or better. Giving your home a deep clean before leaving is the easier way to give the homeowner a good vibe (if you have done no major damages). It might not be very appealing and you would rather just focus on your move, but is this really worth your deposit?
2. Beware of cracks and holes
If they weren’t there before you moved in, you’d better try to repair or hide them before they see them. Nail holes in a white wall are as easy to take care of as rubbing a bar of white soap on them. Ta da! Gone.
Cracks are a bit trickier and might require plaster, but here’s an easy tutorial to get rid of them in a blink of an eye.
As for big holes on the wall, don’t be afraid. Sometimes it’s as easy as cleaning the surface, plastering here and there, smoothing it out then painting all over it like “nothing happened there”. For a perfect result on drywalls, there’s something called a self-adhesive drywall patch that is a time/life saver.
When the hole is in the ceiling it’s even easier to cover: install a smoke detector! They can be a cheaper solution than an actual repair, plus you are adding security and avoiding angry homeowners all at once!
3. Horror movie bathrooms
Sometimes it’s not even your fault that the tiles are low quality or that there’s moisture all over the place. But that doesn’t always mean you won’t be blamed for it. So take your rubber gloves and brush and start scrubbing! You will be able to take off almost all the rust and stains of the sink, toilet and tub just using a slightly stronger product than the one you are used to.
Materials like vinegar, calcium cleaner, baking soda and bleach will be the most inexpensive and effective solution. You won’t believe those huge chunks of whatever it was were not part of your faucets! You can check how to make some DIY cleaners here. For the tiles’ grout, try first with those products and, if the mold stains are resistant, you might want to replace the grout following the instructions of this tutorial.
For damp stains on regular walls, just make a solution of bleach and water (of approximately 25% bleach), apply it and scrub it with a stiff-bristled brush and then rinse and dry it.
4. Away with the cigarettes smell!
Let’s assume you did the right thing and air the rooms but that horrible smell still got stuck on your furniture and walls and now your security deposit is in danger. There are some commercial products to get rid of it, but if you are interested in low-cost solutions, here’s what you have to do:
- Open all windows and switch on the fans. If you have a patio, you can put as much things there as you can so the breeze can do half of your job for you.
- Wash all fabrics of curtains, sofas, etc., preferably in the washing machine with some drops of vinegar. It’s important to wash them with cold water and not to dry them with heat. If it’s not possible, then consider a dry cleaner.
- For the non-removable fabric items, try sprinkle baking soda on them (never get it wet or you won’t be able to take it out!) and let it for one hour to work its magic. To remove it’s as simple as to vacuum it off. You might have to repeat the whole process a couple of times.
- Wash the walls, glass, mirrors and ceiling with vinegar and water (3 parts vinegar to 1 part water)
If after all the odor is persistent, then you should probably repaint the walls and replace carpets or curtains.
5. Make an inspection with the landlord
This is a must. And you are going to need a witness (a friend or a family member). Walk around and review all the issues of the property. Then, write them down in a document and sign it, so after you leave the landlord can’t blame you for things that weren’t there. This might sound a bit paranoid but you won’t believe how many times homeowners “invent” things that weren’t there so they can keep your deposit for “reparations”. Even if he/she is friendly, you should never forget to do this small inspection, so you can leave with peace of mind.