Getting your apartment move-out ready is always a chore. You already know you have to do a thorough cleanup. So we’re going to focus on some of the tasks that even your landlord might have overlooked on the move-out checklist – but might find later and ding you for if you don’t take care of them.
Step One: Move All Your Stuff Out
This is pretty basic. You can’t do a final cleaning if there are boxes piled around the apartment. Get all of your things out before you make a run at it. If you decide to clean room-by-room, don’t put anything back into a room once it has been cleaned.
Step Two: Examine the Walls
Go over every wall inch by inch with a knife or pliers and remove every tack, nail, hook, staple, or anything that is currently in or on the wall. Then wipe down the entire wall and repair any holes.
To repair a hole in drywall, get a putty knife, some light spackle, and a fine-grit sanding sponge from your local hardware store. Clean out the hole as best you can. Then use the knife to apply a little more spackle than is needed to fill the hole, and scrape it as flat as you can. Let it dry, then use the sanding sponge to get rid of any unwanted lumps and bumps. If the spackle shrinks too much as it dries, you might have to repeat the process once or twice until it sets without a gap.
Step Three: Examine the Lighting
After you’ve cleaned the lighting and ceiling fans, step back and look at the room. If it looks dim or dark, invest in brighter light bulbs. This is a pure psychological trick, but it works. Brightly-lit rooms look cleaner than dim rooms, and this alone should help prevent your landlord from viewing a space as dirty.
Step Four: Replace Anything Broken
If anything in the apartment is broken – bent blinds, doorknobs that won’t lock, anything that doesn’t work like it should – replace it. You’ll spend less money on the replacement than the landlord will charge you to fix these items. This only goes for things that are broken beyond regular wear and tear, which the landlord should be responsible for. However, don’t choose this time to spring news of a leaky faucet on your landlord. If you don’t report repair and maintenance requests in a timely fashion, you could end up footing the bill at move out time.
Step Five: Clean the Vents
Don’t forget to clean the bathroom fan, the fan over the stove, and the fan on the back of the fridge.
Step Six: Document Everything
Document what you did, and what your apartment looked like when you moved out. Take pictures or, even better, a video of everything in the apartment so you’ll have proof of the condition you left the apartment in.
Getting an apartment ready to move out is not easy. But there is generally at least a few hundred dollars on the line, so putting in the effort will be worth your while.