College Connect: Some simple hacks to help you get your deposit back!

Posted By Crystal Beasley

By Lauren E. Steffens

I’ve lived in every type of campus and off-campus housing – dorms, sorority house, furnished apartments, unfurnished apartments and houses.

Each and every one requires a deposit. And often, you don’t get it all back. So here are some tips to avoid a tussle with the landlord when it’s time to move out. After all, deposits are often hundreds of dollars, and most college grads have a story or two about being at odds with the university or landlord over damage to housing.

Some thoughts:

  • When you move in, make sure you inspect your apartment and note anything that isn’t working, is stained, marred or broken. Many places have a sheet you sign to acknowledge the condition of the apartment before you move in, but some done. Insist on doing this “walk-through” when you move in. In addition, take photos of the condition of the apartment with your cell phone, which will time/date the photos. Also take photos when you move out.
  • Read your lease. Know what your “deposit” includes and doesn’t include. For example, some deposits are really cleaning fees, and the landlord won’t give it back. On the other hand, you might not have to clean the carpet (or the oven), if you are already paying a cleaning fee.
  • Get a list of apartment rules. For example, can you put holes in the wall (usually not). You’ll have to use those adhesive strips, instead. Are you responsible for replacing lightbulbs?
  • Properly dispose of your trash. If you just carry things to the curb, hoping the trash pickup will cart everything away, think again. Some communities won’t pick up mattresses or other furniture items. The city will bill the landlord, who you for this “removal” fee.

Don’t let problems linger. If something is broken, immediately tell the landlord. If you wait to report a problem when you move out, the landlord can blame you for the damage.

And I know it sounds like you mom, but DO keep the apartment clean throughout the year. Shower scum is must harder to remove if it has built up for 10 months! So make cleaning something you AND your roommates do every week.

That said, take steps to make cleaning easier. Buy a shower squeegee to wipe down the walls and that will make cleaning easier. Line the oven with foil to catch drips. Buy a decent vacuum cleanrs. To keep spills from ruining carpet, buy a carpet remnant for $15 to go in front of the living sofa, and a smaller, cheap rug to go in the bathroom. When you move out, just throw them away if they are stained, as they’ve done their job to keep stains off the carpet.

Happy moving!


Lauren E. Steffens is a master’s student in studio art at the University of Missouri.

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