The long weekend is perfect for barbecuing and relaxing with our family, but the time off from work also gives us the chance to catch up on some basic home improvement. We don’t have the motivation to spend hours scrubbing the tiles or anything, but we have been meaning to do something about the damage we did to our wooden flooring with a scratchy dining room chair.
After all, we were bright-eyed when we moved into our apartment and thought, “At least we’ll get this security deposit back when we move out.”
Two years later, it’s time for a reality check. We haven’t wreaked havoc on the place, but we did make little holes in the wall, repaint our bedroom, and cause that damage to the wood floor.
When you move out of an apartment, you’re liable for any damages beyond “normal wear and tear.” But, there’s no solid definition of that phrase—it’ll depend on how long you lived there, the apartment’s condition before you moved in, and, honestly, how forgiving your landlord is.
Here are 4 easy things we’re doing to make sure we get our security deposit back:
1. Fix Holes In The Wall
If left unattended, we’d have to pay for the anchor holes used to hang our flat-screen, and the gaping spot in the drywall from where we hit the wall while building our desk. Easy fix: Pick up a bottle of drywall filler (Jig-A-Patch costs $7), spray the spackle into the hole, smooth over, and let it set. Done.
LV Tip: For an even easier fix for small holes, just put a little bit of toothpaste in the gap and smooth it over.
Some leases say that all walls must be painted white, whereas other landlords are okay with painted walls as long as the next tenant is cool with it. Before you repaint your entire apartment, talk to your landlord. Repainting walls yourself will cost roughly $12 to $35 per gallon, plus supplies. Use this calculator to figure out how many gallons of paint you’ll need. Ask your landlord how much he’d charge for the same job, and then decide what’s worth more: your time or your money?
3. Mending Wood Scratches
If, like us, you bought those felt furniture leg pads a few weeks too late, look into refinishing scratches on the wood floor yourself. It isn’t super difficult; if your wood is very dark, use coffee grounds to mask scratches. Otherwise, just grab a small can of wood stain that matches your color and apply it to the scratches. Some sources recommend sanding down scratches first, but experience has taught us that it’s better not to sand if your wood is pretty new and polished already. Sandpaper and stain will generally run you less than $20, and could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars over the cost of redoing the whole wood floor.
4. Repairing Holes In Window Screens
Depending on the size of the hole, you have a few choices. To fill a small pinhole, daub on a bit of clear nail polish. One of the most common fixes is simply using a piece of vinyl, metal, or fiberglass tape to cover the hole (a roll of which will cost you about $10). If the tear is relatively small, you can also just sew it up with a needle and thread. Another option is to buy a cheap, easy-to-use kit (this one from Home Depot is just $2), which comes with patches for your screen. If the tear is too big to fix yourself, see if your local hardware store will do the job. Ours does it for $15 to $25, which is a lot less than our landlord would charge.
A Word To The Wise
When you move in anywhere, take photos of everything: walls, floors, doors, windows, screens. Then, print, mail them to yourself, and don’t open the envelope. The postmark will serve as proof of when the photos were taken. These can be a big help if your landlord denies preexisting damage and doesn’t want to return your deposit come move-out time.