Editor’s note: Here’s a guest post from our friends at Omega Industries (www.omegaindinc.com). Just an added word to the wise – in Wisconsin, landlords can’t require their tenants to clean their carpets. Additionally, at Decker Properties, we’re very concerned with how someone untrained might do repairing their own drywall. If your repairs aren’t going to be perfect and invisible, it’s better to leave them to us. Yes, you may get charged. But you could get charged, potentially even charged more, for a botched drywall repair. – Dave
All your boxes are packed and you’re ready to move out. The last thing on your mind is cleaning and repairing the apartment you’re leaving. But, as a tenant, you have the responsibility to leave the place as you came.
Besides major repairs that you did not directly cause, you need to do basic deep cleaning and minor repairs. The landlord is responsible for repairs such as fixing the water, energy and heat supply. You are responsible for keeping your unit clean and repairing any damages you may have caused to the appliances, walls, ceilings or carpet.
Cleaning and repairing your apartment when you leave is a basic tenant requirement. Not only is it a courteous thing to do, but it also saves you from losing your security deposit to damages. If you cause major damage, the landlord can either bill you extra for the damages, or they could even sue you.
To avoid losing your security deposit or paying for extra damage follow these 5 common cleaning and repair rules.
1. Repair the Drywall
There might be a few dents or scrapes on your walls from doorknobs or moving furniture. That can easily be fixed by a drywall contractor. If it’s small scrapes you can get it done by yourself. Before you begin, you will want to have some drywall spackle, a drywall knife, some primer and touch-up paint on hand.
For small dents, use a little dab of quick-dry spackle. After you let it sit for 24 hours, you can sand it down and touch it up with some paint. If you have sunken nails or screws, you can also cover them with spackle and paint.
If there is a dent from a doorknob you can use a self-adhesive mesh patch to cover it. Then use a drywall knife to crisscross some joint compound and smooth the edges to blend with the wall. Allow it dry fully, sand it and paint the patch.
2. Deep Clean the Carpet
Hopefully, while you stayed in your apartment you vacuumed regularly. That’s the first defense to maintain the carpeting. That will also make deep cleaning easier when you’re moving out.
Professional Cleaners are the way to go. They are easy to use and affordable to rent. Steam cleaners use hot water and detergent to deep clean the carpet. One thing to keep in mind is that it will take about 6 to 10 hours to completely dry.
3. Fix Minor Plumbing
Obviously any major plumbing would require calling a plumbing expert. But, for smaller things like a dripping faucet or a slow shower drain, you can fix that up yourself. For that, you will need some slip joint pliers, a screwdriver and an Allen wrench.
For a leaky faucet, look for where the water is coming from. Once located, find the water shutoff under the sink. Cover the drain so no loose parts fall down the drain. Take apart your faucet and look at each part. Does anything need replacing? If so, bring the parts to a local hardware store and replace them. Some hardware stores will even provide full sink repair kits.
Before reassembling, hold a rag over the open faucet and run the main water to flush out any debris. Turn the water back off and reassemble the faucet.
You can clean out a clogged up drain with or without chemicals. Most of the time you can successfully clear the drain by using a screwdriver and a stiff bent wire or coat hanger. All you need to do is remove the plug and use the wire to pull out clogs.
If it is still clogged, you can remove the trap and trap arm part of the drain (right under the drain opening). To do this, put a bucket under the trap to catch any water. You can twist off the connectors with a wrench and clean out the trap with the same stiff wire.
4. Check the Vents, Heating and AC (HVAC)
Air ducts can contain a lot of dust, hair, pollen and all sorts of allergens. You will want to do a quick clean of these before you move out. The tools you need for this are a vacuum with a hose attachment, screwdriver, broom and cleaning brush.
Take off the duct and grille covers with your screwdriver. You can clean these with the brush or with a hot soapy rag. Then use your vacuum to suck dust out of the ducts. If you have vents on the ceiling, you can use your broom to clean those.
If your apartment comes with a dryer, you will want to clean out the dryer vent as well. A clogged dryer vent can be a serious fire risk. To clean it, first, you need to unplug and disconnect your dryer (if it’s electric). Natural gas run dryers should be cleaned by a professional.
Once you have open access to the duct from the laundry room wall, you can begin cleaning. You can buy a vent cleaning kit for less than $20 to do the job. It will give you a lint brush and 6 two-foot-long flexible segments that can be combined for a reach up to 12 feet.
When you’re cleaning be aware that a lot of lint will come out. Have a garbage can and broom to sweep up the mess. After you are satisfied with the removal, you can reattach everything and put your dryer back against the wall.
5. Hire House Cleaning Services
What if you’re crunched on time or aren’t confident in these repairs? Then it’s time to call in professional help. Spending some money on professional handymen or cleaners is better than doing nothing at all!
A one-time professional deep cleaner will cost you somewhere between$100-$250 depending on the size of your apartment. Make sure you are hiring for the specific purpose of deep cleaning, not housekeeping. A deep cleaning service will significantly clean each room, especially the kitchen and bathroom. You can expect them to deep clean all parts of the appliances, bathroom tile and grouting, and window blinds.
Get Your Full Security Deposit Back
By doing some deep cleaning and basic repairs, you can avoid losing your security deposit to pay for damages. You want to leave the apartment in a position where the landlord can turn around and lease it right away. If they have to do a lot of repairs themselves, they’re more likely to bill you the expenses. Wipe your hands clean of your apartment and start fresh by simply leaving the apartment similar to when you moved in.