Move-Out Cleaning Tips to Get Your Deposit Back

Puppy In A Moving Box

Are you about to move on to bigger and better things? Does your progress involve moving to a different home? Brace yourself because there’s a ton of work to do.

Packing your things up and moving them to your new address should already fill your plate, but, unfortunately, your to-do list contains so much more than these two items. You should include among your priorities the cleaning of your current home, especially if it’s a rental.

How to Clean a Rental Before Moving Out

You may think that you’ve washed your hands off your rental once you’ve left it, but you need to remember the little matter of your deposit. You’re supposed to get it back intact, provided your unit is in the same condition it was in at move-in. This is why it’s prudent to take pictures and videos as well as get a proper inspection of the unit before acquisition.

So how are you supposed to make your rental look just as nice as it did before you moved in? And it would have looked nice, too, or you wouldn’t have opted to live there.

Of course, your landlord should expect to see some signs of normal wear and tear. You shouldn’t have to paint the walls so they’ll once again look pristine or replace the carpets so they don’t look worn in places, but there are certain expectations you should meet.

The following are some of the things you can do to your rental so you can earn your security deposit back.

People Carrying Boxes

1. Check your rental agreement.

There’s a possibility that your landlord already detailed what kind of maintenance was expected of you and how things should be at move-out. There might even be an actual checklist.

2. Remove all your belongings.

You can do this yourself or take advantage of your removalist’s home packing services as well. This is a big undertaking and paying for help is definitely worth the expense, especially if you simply don’t have the time.

It’s better to get all your things out of the way so you can more easily and thoroughly clean the place. Keep in mind that you have to remove your rubbish as well. Your landlord would have to pay to have it removed, and he’d be sure to take the cost out of your deposit.

Take into consideration the end of your lease. Schedule packing and cleaning accordingly so you don’t have to pay extra rent in case you end up doing these after your lease runs out.

3. Do a deep clean.

Start with the basics. This means floors, windows, doors, ceilings, sinks, toilets, bathtubs, showers, and appliances. Dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and scrubbing down are the order of the day.

Look at everything with the eye of a prospective renter. You wouldn’t have rented a place if the oven had been crusted over with dried-up bits of food or if the fridge boasted stains of long-ago spills.

4. Remove lingering stains and marks.

If your toddler wrote on the walls or if you spilled something on the carpet, staining it, figure out a way to get rid of it. Wear and tear is acceptable, but stains and marks are not. Your landlord will charge you for the marks you leave behind.

5. Fill holes and then paint.

Your landlord is likely to charge you for the screw holes you drilled into the walls for hanging pictures and other effects, so take care of that yourself. You never know if you’ll be billed reasonably or not, so to be on the safe side, caulk, sand, and retouch the paint yourself.

6. Take photos and videos before you leave.

It’s important to document everything so you can show proof of the condition of the rental upon your departure. If you also took pictures and videos prior to moving in, that’s even better. You can make comparisons.

Some landlords, whether unintentional or otherwise, may charge you for some flaw that may have already been there before you took over. It’s good to have a record of everything for instances like this.

On Top of the Situation

Don’t be vague. Familiarize yourself with how the deposit scheme works in your state. Of course, also make sure you don’t have any arrears.

Do what you need to do, and if your landlord still sees fit to keep your deposit or some of it without justifiable cause, you always have the option of holding him to the law.


Craig Jones is the Managing Director at Aussiemove, Australia’s largest independent moving alliance. Craig is a respected member of the removalist network in Australia, having served in senior positions, including the President of the removal industries governing body, the Australian Furniture Removals Association (AFRA). With 23 years of experience at Aussiemove, he has the skills and the highly trained team to move families safely and reliably, in Adelaide, across Australia and around the world.

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