In almost all lease agreements, the landlord will include a clause that stipulates that the deposit will only be returned to the tenant if they leave the property in the same condition that it was in before they began to rent it. As such, if you're planning to move out of your rental property and are concerned about getting your deposit back, you will need to do a little bit of work before you leave. Here are two of the most important steps you should take.
Repair any damage
Regardless of how careful you are, the reality is that if you live in a property for a significant period of time, you will probably end up causing some minor damage. You might, for example, have made some small holes in the walls when using nails to hang artwork, created a crack in a tiled floor when you dropped a heavy object on it or scratched a wooden skirting board when trying to rearrange your furniture. All of these things could give your landlord cause to withhold a percentage of your deposit. Given this, it's worth spending a bit of time repairing any damage you may have caused before you move out.
To repair wall holes made by nails, you will need some jointing compound to fill in the gap, a filling knife, a piece of sandpaper, a paintbrush and some paint in a shade that matches the rest of the wall. Wipe away any loose scraps of plastering before scooping up the jointing compound onto the filling knife and inserting it into the hole. Once you have filled it up to the point where it is level with the rest of the wall, use the edge of the knife to smooth out the surface. Allow it to dry before using sandpaper to remove any remaining bumps or ridges. Then, paint the sanded area.
If you have scratched a wooden skirting board in the property, it should be relatively easy to repair provided the scratch is a superficial one. Firstly, clean the affected area with a damp cloth and leave it to dry for a few minutes. Then, using either a cotton bud or a thin tipped paint brush, apply a light layer of varnish or wood sealant to the scratch. Depending on the depth of the scratch, you may need to apply a few more coats to create an even finish.
Understand the importance of end of lease cleaning
A significant percentage of deposit-related disputes arise as a result of the property not being properly cleaned before the tenant has moved out. As such, if you're determined to get your full deposit back, it's important to make this a priority.
It should be noted that a standard cleaning session (i.e. removing superficial dirt and grime from the most visible areas of the home) won't be enough in this scenario. Most landlords expect tenants who are moving out to leave the property in perfect condition. To achieve this, you'll need to deep clean every single inch of the house or apartment. This isn't as easy as it may sound; it can take a lot of time and energy, along with the right type of cleaning equipment, to do this.
In addition to hoovering the carpets, mopping any wooden or tiled floors and wiping down the countertops, you will also need to dust all of the window sills, light fixtures, skirting boards, door handles and banisters. Any stains on the carpet will need to be treated with either chemical cleaning products or a steam cleaner.
All of the accumulated limescale, soap scum and mould in the bathroom will need to be dealt with and the grouting in between the tiles will need to be scrubbed to remove ingrained dirt.
The oven must be left sparkling clean; this can be particularly tricky if you haven't been cleaning it on a regular basis during your tenancy, as the grime and grease will most likely have become encrusted into the walls of the oven. All of the other large appliances in the kitchen will have to be pulled out so that you can wash away the grime, crumbs and dirt that have built up underneath them.
If you don't feel that you have the time, cleaning tools or energy to cope with this type of work, it might be worth hiring a company that offers an end of lease cleaning service. This will put your mind at ease during the moving process, as you'll know that the property will be left looking spotless when the time comes to move out.