We were staying in temporary housing when we rolled out for our trip. The cabin had been cleaned and turned back over to our landlord. We have been burned a couple times by wiley home owners and I want to share a few pointers for renting. I can’t stress enough the need for an initial walk through with pictures taken. Also, I would highly recommend you use the same moving in checklist that will also be used on your exit. Also, know and understand the rental laws of the state you are renting in. Know and understand how disputes will be settled and what the cost of that legal debate will be.
First, take pictures of the rental before you move your things in. We were dinged in MD for the yard being ‘torn up’ and destroyed, even though the yard had been full of weeds and the landlord left a fallen tree on the property. Nevertheless, we were charged for reseeding the yard when we left. Pictures would have helped us to defend ourselves to the poor condition of the yard before we moved in. Here in SC there are several dings and scratches throughout the house. There is also a damaged mirror and dented appliance. These things were noted and sent to the landlord so that we wouldn’t be charged for the damage already on the property.
Second, make note of scratched wood floors, dings in the wall from doors, or damage of any kind. Our AK landlord tried to charge us for stripped wires under the water heater. They claimed we had turned up the heat on the water tank so much that it had melted the wires. Changing these setting would have required a fine tuning with a screwdriver and this is something we never touched. In the MD house, our pictures of the rotting wood and unkept home would have helped our case with the landlord’s accusations. Pictures and notes, pictures and notes, I just can’t stress this enough.
Third, if cleaning the rental is high on the landlord’s priority list (and it often is) consider hiring a cleaning person. If a cleaning service can be agreed upon by the landlord, then hire someone to do a final move cleaning of the home. This ensures that the landlord will be satisfied with the way the home looks once professionally cleaned and you won’t get dinged by this issue. We had a large crew to help us clean the MD house and the landlord was satisfied with the work. In AK, we just rushed the job and were dinged on the cleaning. We should have agreed to a hired service so that we were more in control of how much the cleaning service was going to cost and when that money was spent. Any cleaning that the landlord has to do can be charged to your deposit at their discretion. This can be pretty outrageous at times. Also, don’t forget to walk around the property for debris. Our AK landlord charged us for picking things up in the yard that had been blown in by the wind and they were able to set the cost of this debris removal.
Fourth, agree to the fix-it amounts on the final walkthrough checklist and sign to that effect. Our AK landlord attempted to add to our damage list after we had left Alaska. My husband wouldn’t agree to any new charges beyond what we had agreed upon at final walkthrough. This way you can get your eyes on the claimed damage to determine whether it was your doing or not. Normal wear and tear, to include fresh paint is often on the landlord and required before a new renter moves in. Know what is required of you as a renter for upkeep and replacement and what you will be responsible for when time comes to move on.
Again, I can’t stress enough to know the state rental laws and have a checklist when moving in. It can save you from some major headaches when you are PCSed to a new location and have to do this all over gain 😉