If you’ve ever moved out of an apartment, you know what a nail-biter it can be waiting on your security deposit refund. This is especially true if you’ve already paid a security deposit and the first month’s rent on a new place and your budget is tight. Apartment painting is one of the ways you can improve your chances of getting your deposit back. But, before you paint, there’s some important information to consider.
For Security Deposit Refunds, First, Know Thy Lease
Before you reach for a paintbrush, dig back through your files for your lease. There, you’ll find the list of all the things you can lose your security deposit over. While rental laws differ from state to state, most leases distinguish between “damage” and “wear and tear.” Usually, it’s the stuff on the “damage” column you have to look out for. That can include:
- Big holes in the wall (including excessive holes from picture hangers)
- Fixtures and appliances broken due to negligence, like a dented fridge door or cracked bathroom tiles
- Poor cleaning habits – dirty stovetops, mold and mildew, water spots on the floors
- Urine stains from pets
- Stained or scuffed paint
If you want to get every penny back, download an apartment cleaning checklist. That will help you ensure you hit everywhere a landlord will look, including places you may not have thought of, like the top of the range hood and bifold door tracks.
Cleaning and Repair Tips
Regular wear and tear on walls, like minor dings or a normal number of holes from picture hangers, won’t trigger your landlord to keep your security deposit. But if there’s actual damage — like big scuff marks or holes in the wall — before you hand over the keys, you’ll need to repair it.
Use melamine foam to get rid of scuff marks on the walls and trim. Repair small drywall dings with painter’s putty and sandpaper. Larger holes in the wall may require more effort.
Don’t Paint, Yet
Before you break out the paintbrush to cover the spackling, ask your landlord about the paint policy (and be sure to get all answers in writing). Many landlords don’t require you to paint over patched drywall. Plus, it can be hard to match existing paint color – and you don’t want to repaint the whole place and have it turn out to be the wrong hue. (Your landlord will charge you to repaint then, for sure.) If your landlord will allow you to touch up paint, ask them to share the name of the paint color and the preferred sheen. Some landlords will provide the paint to make sure it will match.
If you painted any room in the apartment a non-approved color during your lease, repaint in the original color (again, ask the landlord for the paint, itself, or the right color). That way, you’ll save your security deposit.
And once you get to your new place, whether it’s a house or apartment, reach out for a free paint quote. Whether you want a new coat of paint to hide wear and tear or you want to explore different paint colors and embrace new design trends, painting your walls can dramatically improve your space.