How to lose your security deposit without really trying.

Tony Cline Tenants Leave a Comment

Believe it or not, we don’t make any money when a tenant loses all or even a part of their security deposit. As a matter of fact it costs us money by way of extra time, documentation and communication required when we withhold from a tenant’s security deposit. Just to be clear, we don’t want your deposit, we want to give it back to you.

To assist us both with making sure you get your security deposit returned we have compiled this top 10 list of ways previous tenants have forfeited some of their security deposit dollars.

10. Not completing the move in Walkthrough documentation.

Documenting the condition of your new home is very important and during the move in process you were provided with either hard copy documentation or an electronic form for you to do so.  The lease and form both allow for you to document the condition but the form must be returned within 72 hours of taking possession of the property to make sure that it represents the condition that it was in when you first moved in.  If you don’t return the form and the related photos then, according to the lease you have accepted all items on the Move In Walkthrough documentation in good condition.  We encourage all of our residents to complete this form and return it as soon as possible so that you will not be held accountable for damage that was caused prior to your move in.

9. Not reading the Move Out Instructions for your property.

We know that moving can be stressful and many times we our residents under estimate the amount of time and effort the move will take.  Taking time to thoroughly read and understand the move out instructions provided by our office will often our residents time, money and hassle.  If you fail to read the move out instructions you will miss important information that you need to know to maximize the amount of security deposit that gets returned to you.

8. Moving out with clogged drains.

Your lease states that you are responsible for any clogged drains as well as any associated costs in clearing them.  If you have any slow moving drains, whether it is a shower, toilet, or sink, make sure that you clear the drains from any obstruction or place a service request so that we can have a professional clear them on your behalf.

7. Leaving trash in the property.

We have enough cleaning supplies and the next tenant does not want your half bottle of cleaning solution.  Any personal items, including cleaning supplies, that belong to you should be removed prior to surrendering the keys to your unit.  If you leave something that has to be removed you will be charged by the vendor to remove it.

6. Not replacing the light bulbs as required by your lease.

A typical A-19 style light bulb costs a few bucks and some of the fancier light bulbs can cost a few bucks more.  According to your lease light bulbs are the tenants responsibility to replace and maintain in good working order.  Failing to take the time to replace a handful of light bulbs can be very costly because we not only have to have a vendor go to the property to determine what style light bulbs are needed but then also return with the proper bulbs and install them for you.  A quick trip to the hardware store and a few moments installing missing bulbs before you move out can save you a vendor trip charge and a minimum service fee.

5. Not cleaning properly.

It always takes longer to clean an empty property than what people think it will and after cleaning for hours people end up missing the details.  For example, here are a few of the most commonly missed areas related to cleaning:

  • Appliances: The inside of the microwave, the seal around the refrigerator and freezer doors, the seal around the dishwasher, the lint filter in the clothes dryer.
  • Baseboards: baseboards should be free of dirt and grime, make sure that you clean the corners and under the door hinges well.
  • Walls: scuff marks on the walls that can be cleaned without being painted.

There are many other areas that need to be cleaned and a full list of items can be requested from our office.

4. Damaging the wood floors.

Wood floors are difficult to repair because you can’t replace a section of the floor and you can only sand them a limited amount of times.  Damage to wood floors is very costly and should be avoided by taking care not to drag  furniture or other items across the floor.  Also, wearing shoes that damage the floors, i.e. high heel shoes, should be avoided so that funds are not withheld from the security deposit to make repairs.

3. Not owning a vacuum and not steam cleaning the carpets upon move out.

If you have carpet in your home make sure that it is cleaned on a regular basis.  failing to vacuum your property will cause damage that exceeds normal wear and tear by creating stains and excessive wear.  Also, dirt is not considered normal wear and tear so make sure that you have the carpets steam cleaned by a professional prior to surrendering the property (provide the receipt upon move out).  Failing to do so will cause them to be cleaned and the costs deducted from your security deposit.

2. Not following the HOA/Building move out instructions.

Each building downtown has their own move in and move out policies.  These are governed by the HOA and must be adhered to.  Failing to comply with the buildings move out policies and procedures will result in a fine against the landlords ledger which, in accordance with the lease, is your responsibility to pay as the tenant.  The funds to pay any fees, fines and other related expenses will be withheld from your security deposit.

1. Touch up painting and patching of walls.

Just don’t.  Just don’t patch nail holes, TV mounting bracket holes, damage holes.  Don’t patch anything.  Just don’t paint.  Don’t touch up paint, don’t paint the walls, don’t paint the patches that you did even though you weren’t supposed to patch anything.  Here’s why:  patches require multiple applications, sanding and then texturing.  Touch up painting never matches, even if you use paint from the same can that was originally used a year or two ago. Taking a tiny 6 penny nail hole, patching it with a bad patch, then painting it and feathering it out to make it match will take a pin size hole and turn it into a saucer or plate sized damaged area that will need to be repaired.  Any painting that becomes necessary would require the whole wall to be painted corner to corner.

Help us return your security deposit.  Follow this list as well as the Cliffdwellers Move Out Instructions and the building move out instructions, you get more money back and you will be happier when you move.

About the Author

Tony Cline

Tony Cline is the Managing Broker for Cliffdwellers Real Estate and Property Management.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *