Updated: Feb 5, 2019
I hope you have never been in this situation: you are moving out of a rental, you spend a day meticulously cleaning the kitchen, bathrooms, floors, in other words trying to get it back to the condition it was in when you moved in, only to get a reduced security deposit back! You truly believe you left that place spotless but your landlord still deducts!
Ok, so that’s where a thorough walk through is important, and should include you filling out a form called a Move In/Move Out form that a realtor can provide to you. This form allows you to be really detailed because every room is listed and every possible part of each room, including outdoor areas.
After you sign a lease agreement with your new landlord, take filling out this Move-In Form seriously, it will save you money when it’s time to move again. Fill out every irregularity, damage, odor, and visible abnormality that you can find in the property. Check to see that all appliances are working properly, that every window and door opens and shuts, note any damage to the bathroom mirrors and tubs/showers, any markings /holes that may still be present in the walls, any wear and tear to the carpets that are due to the previous tenants, the condition of the window screens, and lighting, to name a few common items.
I recommend that you take pictures of every room in the property as well to keep for yours and your realtor’s records. Remember, file everything away somewhere safe and easy to find when it comes time to move out.
Some landlords can be pretty easy going and not make a big deal of things at move-out, unless there is any damage beyond the normal wear and tear. But there are some out there who are really looking for ways to keep as much of your security deposit as they can. This is where all of your previous work of recording the property’s condition at move-in will come in handy.
If it comes to the point where you have to defend retaining more of your security deposit than what your landlord wants to give back, here are some points that could help you in your defense.
A rental property should be returned to a Landlord in the same condition it was given to the Tenant, minus normal wear and tear
Normal wear and tear is the deterioration of an item that occurs under normal conditions VS Damage which occurs from accidents or unreasonable use
Some examples of normal wear and tear: scuffed up wood floors; faded, cracked or chipped paint; de-silvering bathroom mirrors; cabinet doors that will not close…to name just a few, you can get a longer list in this link
If an item requires replacement due to Tenants abuse or neglect, they can only charge for the remaining useful life of the item (please see example in this link)
Valuable reference documents for Tenants and Landlords: