Tenants want their security deposit back and landlords want a clean, undamaged apartment after move out.

Here are tips from a property manager to help you get your security deposit back and maintain a good relationship with the landlord – you might need a rental verification from them at some point and you don’t want to be remembered as the slob that moved out! 



This is a good starting place to embark on your cleaning adventure. Dust the tops of counters and cabinets, blinds and window sills, light fixtures, fan blades and any furniture provided by the landlord. If the dust doesn’t stick to your duster, you can vacuum it up later.

Duster recommendations: https://www.thespruce.com/top-dusting-tools-1900901


If you’ve ever tried to use a lint roller to clean up a mess on the floor – we’ve all been lazy enough to try that at some point, right? –  then you know that it’s not worth the time it takes for the less than optimal results. With that being said, you really are going to have to break out the vacuum or a broom to make sure your floors are up to par for move out. If the landlord provides furniture, remember to move the furniture so you can vacuum behind and underneath.

Vacuuming tips (that don’t suck): https://speedcleaning.com/2017/speed-cleaning/vacuuming-sucks-ways-easier/

Carpets with stains require a little more TLC and any hard surface floors like the kitchen and bathroom will need to be mopped.


Spackle – not only is it a fun word to say, if used correctly and sanded, it’ll also make sure you aren’t charged for the painters spending extra time patching up the holes in your walls.  

But wait – you’re not done yet! To completely avoid being charged by the painters, you’ll also need to paint over those patched holes – with the CORRECT color/shade. Reach out to your landlord to make sure you know where to find the right paint and know what paint finish you need. The paint finish can be the deciding factor regarding if you’re charged because matte, satin and semigloss produce very different results even if it’s the right color.


So many tenants forget to clean the windows. The window sill and track can accumulate a lot of dust and dirt over the yearlong lease term so taking a damp paper towel to these areas can make a noticeable improvement. Blinds can get moldy so they should also be dusted and wiped clean with a damp paper towel.

Cleaning moldy blinds: https://www.hunker.com/13421883/how-to-clean-mold-from-window-blinds

*Blinds that are cracked or damaged and window/patio door screens that are ripped or holey will need to be replaced at the tenant’s expense.


  • Don’t. Forget. The. Microwave! With a soapy washcloth wipe out the top and walls of the inside, remove and wash the turn table and wipe down the outside of the door.
  • If you’re a messy chef, clean the splatters off the hood fan and light above the stove. There might be food splatters on the walls too depending how enthusiastic you are when cooking.
  • Wipe down all knobs on the stove. If the burners are removable, take them off and give those a good cleaning. Did you know you can actually lift up the stove top to clean underneath?
  • If your oven has an automatic cleaning setting – great! Something should clean itself, right? Wipe out the ash residue when the cycle is finished.
  • Grab your scrub brush, distilled white vinegar and some baking soda to remove that calcium build up and the orange slime decorating the inside of your dishwasher. You can run an empty load to clean the inside of the dishwasher after you’ve done some scrubbing. The outside of the door may need attention too if it’s looking greasy or has unsightly smudges.
  •  Wipe up the sticky spills and crumbs from the insides of the fridge and freezer. Don’t turn off the refrigerator or it will start to smell! Wipe down the outside of the doors in case there are any streaks or spots.
  • Check the state of the sink to see if it needs a quick rinse.
  • If you don’t want to be charged for toilet cleaning, use a bleach wipe to clean off the top and under the seat, around the outside of the bowl, wipe off the area around the bolt cap and pour in some lovely blue cleaner.


Turn in your keys – all of them – on time!

The landlord has to change the locks for security purposes IF ALL original keys and additional/duplicate keys are not returned.

  • Replace burnt out light bulbs with the correct type and make sure they work.
  • Be patient while you wait for your security deposit. Chances are the property manager is working on a lot of deposit returns all at once which can be time consuming and more overwhelming if tenants are asking for information before the checks are sent out.
  • Talk with roommates about any deductions to find out who is responsible.
  • Ask the property manager about charges that don’t make sense.
  • Remember the property manager is only human and sometimes errors can be made when calculating deposit returns for so many units. If any monies are withheld in error that amount will be returned.
  • If you turned in a move in condition report at the beginning of the year, ask the property manager to reference that form to be sure a charge wasn’t preexisting.