When you move out of a rental residence, do another checklist and be honest with yourself about the damage you have caused beyond normal wear and tear. Do not send your landlord a letter telling her to credit your security deposit as the last month’s rent. A security deposit is completely separate from monthly rental payments. And, it only makes Landlords angry, violates a clause of most leases and never addresses the issues of damages beyond normal wear and tear. Many people justify this by saying that the Landlord or property manager was a “jerk” and let him come after me if he wants another $75.00 to clean the carpet. First, you do not become a property manager by being anything other than hard-nosed. Landlords like that quality and the property manager is there first, last and always to insure that the Landlord’s investment is profitable. Second, as a matter of principle they most certainly will come after you for the carpet cleaning which will be $200, not $75.00. Further, your lease probably states that you get to pay their lawyer for the privilege of suing you.
When you move out, have the carpets professionally cleaned, have the unit professionally cleaned, save both receipts – they make excellent evidence of both the cleaning and the kind of tenant you were – and take pictures. You would be surprised how final pictures on move out takes the steam out of any accusation by the Landlord that they are entitled to damages due to the move out condition of the rental. We represented a lovely family that was accused of killing the grass and damaging the deck in the back yard of their rental home. The renter had move out pictures, date stamped, that showed green grass and a perfectly fine deck. The proof totally contradicted the Landlord’s position. Tenant won. Next, if there is damage, such as a large hole in the wall, have it professionally repaired. Again, do not assume that any damage is too small for the landlord to either notice or come after you over. Finally, pull out your move in checklist. It will be very helpful if anyone wishes to accuse you of damage that was already there. But you must retain a copy of the list and cover letter. Do not assume that it will be in your file with the landlord. Remember, to you it is your home, but to the landlord it is an investment – two entirely different points of view and potentially three sides of the story.