Get That Damage Deposit Back with This Simple Move-Out Checklist
You've given notice to your landlord and now it's time for you to move. Are you worried about getting your damage deposit back?
Provided that you've been a good tenant and have kept your rental home in good repair, there should be no reason for the landlord to keep any part of your damage deposit. But even the best of tenants can overlook something, so here is a checklist you can follow to leave the rental unit in a clean and sanitary condition and help make sure you get that deposit back when you move out!
1. Leave the unit in good repair and do a walk-through with your landlord.
All standard-form leases contain a provision that when the tenant moves out, they must leave the premises clean and in substantially the same condition it was in at the beginning of the lease, except for reasonable wear and tear. Any damage made by you, your guests or your pets should be repaired.
Did you do a walkthrough with the landlord before you moved into the place? If so, you should have a copy of the move-in inspection report, listing all items that required repair or showed some damage. You should do a move-out inspection with your landlord - compare the current condition with the condition the rental unit was in when you moved in. Any items that were listed on the move-in report that have not been repaired during your tenancy should not be charged against your deposit when you move out.
2. Clean the windows and the window coverings.
- Plastic blinds should be dusted first, then carefully sponged clean.
- Fabric blinds should be vacuumed, then steam cleaned.
- Drapes should be dry cleaned.
- Cloth curtains can be laundered and ironed before being rehung.
3. Clean the carpets.
Rent a carpet steamer so you can thoroughly clean the carpets after the larger furniture items have been removed. A steamer will lift the dirt and stains out better than shampooing, and does not leave as much residue behind. If the carpets are badly stained, hire a professional carpet cleaner. If you don't do it yourself, you will most likely still have to pay for professional cleaning because the landlord will deduct it from your deposit.
4. Clean the walls, fixtures, and storage areas.
- Thoroughly wash walls, ceilings, and light switch panels.
- Dust and clean all light fixtures. Replace any burned out light bulbs.
- Wash closets, cabinets and drawers inside and out, including door handles and drawer pulls. Use an old toothbrush or nail brush to get down into grooves. Use a good wood cleaner such as Murphy's oil soap for wood cabinets and drawers.
5. Clean kitchen and bath countertops.
- Remove stains from laminate countertops with lemon juice or bleach BUT be careful if you are using bleach because it may remove the color from the surface.
- Granite and marble countertops should only be cleaned with soap and water or with a commercial stone countertop cleaner.
6. Thoroughly scrub all floors.
- Put a no-wax finish on any no-wax flooring and use paste wax on linoleum that requires waxing.
- Use a wood oil soap to wash hardwood and laminate floors. You can also use paste wax on hardwood, then polish well.
- Tile floors should be washed with soap and water.
7. Clean all kitchen appliances very well.
- Remove the burners, clean underneath and wash the burner trays to remove burnt-on stains.
- Pull the knobs off the stove and clean behind them, and clean the knobs before replacing.
- If the oven does not have self-clean or steam-clean options, use a spray-on oven cleaner to clean the oven - remember to wear rubber gloves and do not breathe in the fumes.
- If the stove has a ceramic cooktop, clean it well with a special ceramic cooktop cleaner, then rinse with water. NEVER use abrasive cleaners or scratch pads on the glass cooktop.
- Use only soap and water on the inside. Defrost the freezer section manually if the fridge is not self-defrosting.
- Pull out all trays and clean underneath them.
- Wash all of the inside surfaces thoroughly, including inside the freezer.
- Wash the outside of the fridge with soap and water.
- Clean the inside of the dishwasher with a commercial dishwasher cleaner.
- If the machine has a removable filter basket, empty it and wash it.
- Wash the outside thoroughly.
- Range hood and fan:
- Clean the hood, face plate and switches of the kitchen fan.
- Remove the filter and clean it with a soft brush. Wash out the filter housing.
- If there is a microwave provided with the rental, clean it thoroughly inside and out.
- Wash the glass tray and tray support in the sink, making sure to remove any residue completely.
- Do not use spray cleaner inside the microwave. Use only dish soap and water to clean.
8. Deep-clean the bathroom.
- Thoroughly clean the sink, tub, shower stall, tub surround, toilet and faucets. Use a toothbrush or nailbrush to get into grooves in the faucets.
- Use a good commercial product, or alternatively a mixture of vinegar, water and baking soda, to remove lime, mineral build-up and mildew.
- Leave everything sparkling. Use glass cleaner, or a mixture of water and vinegar, to get the mirrors and chrome fixtures spotless.
9. Leave outdoor, storage and parking areas clean and tidy.
- Sweep and wash all patio, balcony, terrace and porch areas. Remove any trash and articles that belong to you or your family, pets or friends.
- Remove everything from your storage locker.
- If your vehicle has leaked oil or other fluid in your parking space, use a commercial oil stain remover to get rid of it.
10. Repair damage.
- Fill all nail holes and other holes in the walls or ceilings with putty or drywall compound. Sand if necessary, and wash off the excess around the repaired area.
- Repair any other damage that occurred during your tenancy. You'll pay for it anyway, so you might as well do it now.
- If there has been extensive damage, talk to your landlord about it.
11. Clean the furniture (for furnished units).
If the premises are furnished, you will need to ensure that all furniture is left clean and in good repair.
- Upholstery should be steam cleaned.
- Mattresses should be vacuumed and, if possible, aired.
- Chairs and tables should be washed, and everything should be dusted.
- Clean and condition wood furniture with a wood oil soap and furniture polish.
12. Last-Minute Items to Do Before You Leave.
- Take out the trash.
- Remove any garbage and cleaning products before you leave. The premises should be empty of all debris.
- As a final touch, leave a plug-in air fresher plugged in to make sure it smells fresh and clean too.
- Do a walk-through. Before you leave, do a move-out inspection with your landlord.
- Return the keys. Be sure to turn in all keys, garage door openers, security cards, storage locker locks, and other items that must be returned at the end of your tenancy.
- Utility shut-off. Leave the utilities turned on until the landlord has had a chance to inspect the appliances.
If you follow this checklist, your landlord will not only have no reason to deduct money from your deposit, but they will recommend you to other landlords as an exemplary tenant!