You and your pet are moving to a new home! Congratulations! As you prepare to settle into your new place, make note of the state of your current apartment. Take pictures of everything before you move in. When it's time to move out of your apartment and find a new place, follow these steps to make sure your landlord will return your pet deposit.
Make Your Cleaning To-Do List
First, look over the terms of your rental agreement for language that relates to your pet deposit. Common items include the condition of the carpet, odors related to a cat or dog, and damage to walls, floors, and other permanent structures in the apartment. Keep in mind that your rental agreement may include standard fees that will not be returned to you, such as carpet cleaning.
Next, examine the condition of your apartment with a critical eye. Ask a friend to take a look at your apartment for an objective opinion. You may be used to seeing small issues that your landlord will notice right away.
- Is the carpet stained?
- Should the paint be touched up?
- Has your pet chewed or scratched any door frames?
- Can you see scratches or tears on the window screens?
- Are there pet-related stains, marks, or scuffs on the walls or floors?
Now it's time to get the apartment back into move-in ready condition. Ideally, your pet should be living in your new place before you get started so he won't undo your hard work!
- Rent a carpet cleaner and thoroughly clean all the carpets. Pay close attention to any pet stained areas.
- After your first pass-through with the cleaner, look carefully at the carpet again. Clean the carpet twice if needed.
- Place air fresheners throughout the space for a few weeks before your landlord does his final walkthrough. If you can, leave windows open to allow fresh air to blow out any residual pet odors.
- Use paint to touch up any damaged areas on walls, doors, or door frames.
- Repair any tears or scratches to window screens and screened doors.
- Thoroughly clean all surfaces to remove pet hair, pet food particles, stray cat litter, or any other pet-related debris. It doesn't hurt to remove all types of dirt and debris, actually.
Get Final Landlord Approval
When your apartment is in tip-top shape, make an appointment with your landlord for the final walkthrough. Let him know ahead of time that you hope to receive your pet deposit back. Make a list of all the steps you have taken to make sure the apartment is in move-in condition.
Be sure to accompany your landlord during the walkthrough so you can answer any questions. If your landlord points out areas or items of concern, offer to re-clean or fix the issue. If you have a list or pictures of pre-existing problems, be sure to bring it with you to the final walkthrough. Point out that your pet has not damaged the apartment.
If your landlord agrees to return your pet deposit after he has seen your sparkling clean apartment, ask if you can get the agreement in writing, along with a deadline for return of the deposit. You may be friends with your landlord, but you do not want to get caught in a "he said, she said" situation, especially if you're moving too far away to dispute anything in person. Putting things in writing protects both of you.