How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out

Moving out of your apartment can be bittersweet. You pack up all of your things, begin moving furniture, start taking down wall art– and, find yourself face to face with that golf ball-sized hole in the wall you accidentally made one night, then covered with art.

After living in an apartment for at least a year, there’s bound to be some small damage here and there. While some wear and tear is normal and should be built into your lease, fixing minor damage before moving out will ensure you get your full security deposit back. Plus, you’ll stay on good terms with your landlord, who you may need for references down the road.

To make sure you leave your apartment in good condition before moving out, take a look at these normal damage issues and their fixes:

Small holes

After taking down the photos from your gallery wall, you probably noticed the many small holes left by nails that were used to hang the frames. Patching small holes left by nails, tacks and screws is simple and will leave the walls looking great again.

You’ll need some spackling paste, a putty knife and some sandpaper. Squeeze a small glob of the spackle into each hole, then use the putty knife to spread and blend it over the hole and wall. Once the spackle is dry, use the sandpaper to lightly sand the area, especially around the edges, to leave a smooth, flat wall.

In a real pinch, you can use some materials around the apartment to fill the hole. Plain white toothpaste or baking soda mixed with white glue can also work to fill nail holes, but aren’t recommended unless you absolutely have no time to get the right materials.

Large holes

Now it’s time to tackle that large hole you hid under your favorite painting. Mending large holes in drywall isn’t as easy as some of the other fixes, but it will most likely cost you less than if you were to let your landlord handle it and deduct it from your deposit .

Pick up a mesh repair patch at the hardware store to use with your spackle. Then, cut the patch so that it fits over the hole and the surrounding wall. Cover the patch with spackle, and after it dries, sand down the edges so they blend into the wall completely.

Scuff marks

Though scuff marks likely aren’t going to cost you any of your security deposit, they make the apartment appear dirtier than it is and make more work for whoever has to clean thee apartment.

Since I seem to make an inordinate amount of scuffs on the walls of my apartments, I typically don’t try to tackle them all– just really noticeable and large ones. A magic eraser works wonders to get rid of them, so pick up a couple and your walls will be white again in no time.

Broken blinds

Another common damage issue I’m guilty of is bending or even breaking some of my window blinds. Before moving out, dust your windows and blinds, and make sure none are bent or cracked. If bent, do your best to straighten them out as much as possible. If you can’t straighten them, or if one of the blinds is broken, start by looking at the bottom – there’s often a spare slat in any set of blinds. If not, look for blinds of the same size and color at your hardware store. Replace the broken slat with the new one, and your landlord won’t ever know the difference!

Carpet stains

If you’re a red-wine drinker living in a carpeted apartment, you probably know a thing or two about removing carpet stains. Tackling stains before they get a chance to set will help your carpet look better overall, but before moving out, peruse the carpet for any stains you might have missed.  Try using baking soda or carpet cleaner first. If that’s not strong enough to remove the stains, consider renting a carpet cleaner from your hardware or grocery store. They’re easy to use, and your carpets will be unrecognizably clean when you’re done.

Fix damage to the carpet

Now that you’ve fixed the stains on the carpet, is it still intact? If there are damaged patches, or if it’s started to come loose around the edges, or any other damage, you’ll want to get it fixed. Even if you have to hire someone, it’s likely going to be cheaper than having your landlord take it out of your deposit.

Scratches on hardwood

Renters love apartments with hardwood floors because they’re much easier to clean than carpet, but they do have one common problem: Hardwood is easy to scratch. There are a couple of quick fixes for the shallower scrapes, though. Many people swear by the walnut method, which involves rubbing a raw walnut along the scrape until the scratch blends into the rest of the floor. This method works well, just not on deep scratches and darker woods.

For deeper scratches, look for a wood-colored marker or pencil at the hardware store. These products are specifically made for filling in and disguising the scrapes.

Replace light bulbs

If any light bulbs burned out in places that you can easily access, now is the time to take care of them. If there are some that are difficult to reach, such as in high up or complicated fixtures, you might need help or for your landlord to handle them. Even so, replacing any easily accessible ones that burned out will give your landlord less to repair and take out of your deposit.

General dirtiness

Deep cleaning your apartment is recommended to ensure you get your full deposit back, and to give your landlord less of a headache when he or she is trying to ready the unit for the next renter.

Give everything a good wiping, sweeping and dusting, but spend extra time in the kitchen and bathroom. The refrigerator, microwave, oven and stove should all be thoroughly cleaned, along with the toilet, shower, tub and sink.

Take pictures

This isn’t a repair but is crucial to getting more of your deposit back. Take pictures of the current state of everything in the apartment that you couldn’t fix yourself. Having this documentation helps as later defense, in case your landlord takes too much out of the security deposit. Having pictures will work much better than your word against theirs in case things end up in front of small claims court.




Signs Your Apartment is Slowly Dying Inside

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How to Clean Up Storm Damage at Your Apartment

Natural disasters are an unfortunate part of life that leave a trail of destruction in their path that can take months to clean up. Flooding is a prime example of the damage a natural disaster can cause.

Apartments are affected by natural disasters in different ways than a detached house would be, and some of the burden may fall on the tenants to get things cleaned up. So how do you know what you’re responsible for and what your landlord needs to take care of?

We’re here to clear it all up for you. Read on for everything you need to know about storm damage cleanup in your apartment.

Start with your “irreplaceables”

If you find your apartment flooded, whether from a hurricane or other severe storm, or even a damaged home water system, you may also find yourself in a race against the clock. The longer your belongings are in contact with floodwaters, the higher the likelihood for damage.

As soon as it’s safe to do so, remove your important belongings. This could include documents, photos, keys – anything you can’t live without and can’t be easily replaced.

Who is responsible for what?

Now it’s time to start cleaning up, a process that could take days, weeks or even months to complete. One of the hardest parts of apartment storm damage cleanup is identifying who is responsible for what repairs.

You may have a landlord that you know directly or maybe you rent from a large, impersonal property management company. Regardless, it’s likely that some of the cleanup burdens lie on them and not on you as the renter.

Landlords are typically only responsible for the structural components of the units they rent and not for the tenant’s belongings. Unless there’s a case of landlord negligence, it’s usually the responsibility of the tenant to repair damages to their personal property. That’s why renter’s insurance is so important. Among other things, it’s there to cover damages caused by a natural disaster.

If you’re unsure about who is ultimately responsible for specific parts of the damages, you can always consult your lease. If the answer is not there, you should contact your landlord directly and be honest and firm.

And if you’re still unsure or you’re at an impasse with your landlord, you can always contact a lawyer. You can even ask specific questions to lawyers online without having to step foot in a law firm. This is especially helpful if a disaster struck your region as local lawyers are probably busy with their own cleanup efforts.

Dry everything out

One of the most obvious causes of damage is the water, which is why it’s important to get rid of it as soon as possible. Whether this falls on your or your landlord’s shoulders, it’s important that you know the best and safest way to dry everything out.

If you live in a basement apartment, the removal of floodwaters is extremely important. Because the outside walls are pushing inward by the weight of water in the soil and the water inside your basement is balancing that pressure by exerting weight outwards, removing the water suddenly could cause the wall to cave in. Instead, you should remove two to three feet of water per day.

In all other apartments, the floodwaters should naturally recede as soon as your city’s infrastructure can handle drainage again. However, there are proactive steps you can take to make this happen as quickly as possible.

Check for debris in all the drains in your area. You should also clear all entrances to your home and move your belongings so they aren’t preventing the water from receding.

Please note that floodwater is often contaminated with diseases and bacteria and can even contain raw sewage particles. When you’re in contact with floodwater, you should wear protective gear. Also, never consume anything that came into contact with floodwater, even if it was sealed.

Take the next steps

After the water is fully removed from your apartment and your items are dried out, there’s still more to do. Flooding can stain drywall, warp structural components, permanently damage your floors and even affect the foundation of buildings. Again, most of this should be the responsibility of the building owner, but you may have to handle cosmetic cleanup if it’s in your lease.

If you’re pretty handy, you can undertake a lot of the cleanup on your own, if your landlord is in agreement. There are guides to DIY flood water damage cleanup including one from the American Red Cross that is impressive and completely comprehensive.

If you can’t handle your portion of the apartment storm damage cleanup efforts on your own, you can consider hiring a professional. Flood restoration specialists have the know how to get your apartment cleaned quickly, which could actually save you from potential losses – both financial and personal.