14 Tips Residential Renters Can Do to Keep Their Place in Good Shape

So you want to receive most, if not all, of your security deposit back when you move, huh? Well what might you do now to get what you want? Well some would assume all they have to do is keep the apartment reasonably clean and don’t break anything. There is more to apartment living than that and it all depends on what you consider clean and not damaged. If your views conflict with the leasing contract, then you just might not get your security deposit back.

One. Take shoes off at your door.

The more dirt one brings in from outdoors, the harder a resident’s carpet will be to clean. Any cost to repair and clean the carpet will be deducted from one’s security deposit.

Two. Don’t use tape on walls.

The sticky adhesive, especially from so-called invisible tape, will leave unsightly markings on a matte finish wall. Since many landlords choose to go with inexpensive paints (rather than use a semi-gloss) just about any marking will appear on a wall painted with cheap paint from a marking from furniture to dye from one’s clothing, curtains or bed sheets.

Three. Cover heavy traffic areas with throw rugs.

Heavy wear will show up on carpet from repeated walking. So if you are the lucky one who received brand new carpeting, don’t allow it to become unattractive because your high traffic areas have been left uncovered. Plastic runners, area rugs, oriental rugs, any decorative rug will do. But watch for those that might have gripping or leave markings on carpet fibers and damage them. Also, don’t use masking or gray tape, staple , glue or other harsh items to keep the carpet in place. These items will also cause damage overtime.

Four. Cover low wall space with furniture when you have children.

There are areas in one’s unit where a child may paint, use markers, pens, and even drive toy cars along the wall. Center your child’s activities in an area where he or she can’t use walls as potential canvases. Flush furniture or hang maps, posters, or decorative carpeting low so that the child's creative space is well-covered. The mentioned decorative items also absorb sound which will help with noise.

Five. Don’t flush the full length of a bed up against the wall.

Sometimes people will line their bed up against the wall to allow for more space in a room. However, they don’t think about how bedding will rub up against the walls which leave markings on walls that have been painted with that cheap paint as described earlier. Also, children tend to bring toys to bed with them which might ruin walls and make their bedding area appear unclean.

Six. Use shelving that doesn’t have to be hung on walls.

Many people like to organize their home with the least amount of furniture. So what happens is many shelves are hung on walls. If items are not hung properly, they might damage walls. Sometimes wall space is badly marked up because a resident places far too many items on shelves; therefore, the unit begins to fall off wall leaving behind large holes and cracks. Buy furniture and decorative items that don’t have to be hung on walls with large nails or heavy duty Velcro.

Seven. Store bleach products in laundry room or bathroom.

When one is washing clothes, he or she might carry a bottle of bleach around the home or sit it on a floor with the cap loosely on the top. Accidents easily happen and before you know it, there is a large bleach stain in the middle of the hallway or elsewhere. A good idea would be to keep products with bleach (chlorine) in them near the areas you will be using them the most. Never use them to treat stains in carpeting which leads me to my next point.

Eight. Avoid spot cleaning products that turn carpeting.

How many times has a company boasted about how their product works only for you to find out that it does nothing but change the color of the carpeting? This is why on the back of the bottle they advise test in a discreet area. But some residents start spraying products everywhere and now their carpeting looks like a two or three tone mess!

Nine. If you’re not a pet lover, don’t become one unless you know how to properly care for an animal and your living quarters at the same time.

There are those animal lovers who do well cleaning up after their pets, but others not so much. The ones who are nonchalant about keeping up with their pet’s hair and accidents are the ones who end up incurring a large bill. Sometimes their whole security deposit is used to pay for all the pet issues. Neighbors also tend to complain about pet odors and noise. Unfortunately, some animals attract bugs as well simply because they aren't bathed and treated so the resident will complain of having a flea issue. If time is short and so is money, do yourself a favor don’t get a pet.

Ten. Call maintenance as soon as issues arise from broken fixtures to inoperable appliances.

When maintenance issues go unreported, the resident might be held accountable. Don't be surprised after a move when your security deposit is not returned. Report problems in your apartment before you move.

Eleven. Wash hands.

This point seems to be simple enough. But you would be surprised just how many people don’t bother to wash hands after coming in from outside, working on something or eating something. Walls, outlet covers and other fixtures will easily catch food grease, hair dye, black fingerprints, blood markings, and more simply because people don’t bother to wash their hands. Sometimes these marks don’t come off with a multi-purpose cleaner without taking off the walls’ finish.

Twelve. Keep food primarily in kitchen and dining areas.

Once you tell someone, “It’s okay, you can bring that in here…” the food and drink products end up in the carpet, splattered on walls, cabinets and other places. There are those times that these products just don’t wipe clean. Many residents end up having to pay for damages just because a sugary, greasy or bright red something was too good to drink or eat in the kitchen or at a dining-room table.

Thirteen. Vacuum, take trash out often and perform your own pest control.

You can keep bugs from taking over your place if you maintain the upkeep of your unit. Schedule vacuuming your suite at least twice or more a week when you know you enjoy eating in your living-room and elsewhere. Crumbs and sticky messes attract bugs. Add mopping to your chore list too when you have linoleum, vinyl or hardwood floors. Don’t leave trash out. Buy a garbage can that controls odors especially if you cook often at home. At least once a month, spray cracks and crevices around piping in your home, doors, windows, floor boards, inside shelves, and other places bugs can get in. Although pest control comes at least once a month at most properties managed by corporations and less frequently at those managed by private owners, you will need to keep up with managing bugs both in and outside your home.

Fourteen. Entertain guests elsewhere more often than not.

The more visitors, the more likely something will get broken, tattered, stained, or damaged when living in a rented suite. So watch how often you entertain. People who have the most issues with management and neighbors are those who unfortunately party the most. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. The problem resident never considers that just maybe serving and/or drinking alcohol and drugs at a party might be the reason why he or she is often in trouble with the law.

These are just 14 ideas, but there are others that with a little time, money and patience, you can be able to add a few more. Think about great pieces that not only decorate your home, but keep things organized as well. Cover hot spots or high traffic areas. Check http://organizerhome.blogspot.com for ideas on organizing your apartment or home.

If you begin to take action on many of the points mentioned in this article, you just might be one of the ones who will receive that nice note attached to your security deposit refund that says, “Thank you so much for all you did! The place was spotless!” Finally, do remember to take photos before and after your move.

Learn more about Nicholl McGuire, author, poet, and speaker at http://nichollmcguire.blogspot.com

10 Apartment Shopping Mistakes

You are ready to look for an apartment and you have some idea what you want, but you are not clear about some other things.  Before you go out in search of that dream suite, you might want to have a better picture as to what your needs might be.  When you do this, you save yourself and the apartment staff some time.  In discovering more about your apartment needs, think about these mistakes that many apartment shoppers turned renters have done. 

One. They have underestimated square footage, closet space, cabinet space and more.
Once the furniture and many other items were moved in, they realized that the place was just too small to hold all their stuff.  Of course, disappointed, they walk into the leasing office wanting to make some changes.  Sometimes arrangements can be made, but other times they can't be because the apartment communities large suites are already filled. 

Two. They are unobservant of community, neighbors and pets.
During the tour, an apartment shopper might be so impressed with the look and feel of the community that he or she overlooks a particular ethnicity that lives there that they don't particularly like, numerous renters with pets, or areas of the property that aren't so nice.  Once moved in, he or she begins to feel like the apartment community is not what they had in mind.

Three. They overlook needed repairs and falsely assume management will get to them after starting the application process.

As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, never sign a contract until needed repairs are fixed.

Four. They fail to open up cabinets, check along baseboards and other places for signs of insect or rodent problem.

This point has been made much on this blog.  It is unfortunate when a resident finds that they will be having a few roommates simply because management fails to keep on top of pest control.

Five. They fail to flush toilet.

Most shoppers don't bother to touch anything, but it would make sense to press a lever, turn a knob or do something in the suite to test that it works.

Six. They don't turn on faucets.
The water may or may not be on in the suite.  Sometimes it isn't because the next renter will have to have it turned on.  However, you can at least turn the knobs to see if they will fall into your hands.

Seven. They don't check light switches and electrical outlets.

Notice the lighting, will it be feasible?  Will you need to buy lamps for every room and corner?  (Keep in mind, some places will not have electricity turned on until a new renter moves in.)

Eight. They don't test appliances and windows.

These items may be workable.  But there are those suites where the windows are painted shut or glued.  Appliances may not operate because they are not turned on yet, but be sure.  Perform a test on a later date before you move your items into the suite.

Nine. They don't look for signs of molds and mildew.

If you see any black, green, gray or strange colors growing off of any piping, wall, baseboard, or elsewhere, that just might be a sign of a bigger problem.  Also, use your nose when walking the

Ten. They ignore bad smells.

Sniff for a gas leak, a rotten smell, a musty odor, or other odd smells in community hallways and in the suite.  Follow your nose.  Tough odors don't go away on their own, sometimes they have to be cut out.  Insulation behind a wall that had a leak, must be removed and a wall might need to be replaced.  Carpeting that once was walked on by a pet will need to be removed.  There are plenty of things that you will need to keep your nose wide open about especially under cabinets and in closets.  Just imagine, if the odor doesn't go away, it just might start to sit on the clothes hanging in your closet or the furniture in your place.
In closing, consider looking at other things while touring the rental property such as: the proximity of shrubs and trees near windows and doorways and check amenities like the community pool, playground, workout facility, and play area. If nearby parking is important to you, think about the walking distance to and from your future residence. Another thing that might make or break your moving into a certain community is the length of travel time from job to home and whether the traffic is slow moving.
All of these signs will keep you from having to go to management one day with this statement, "I don't like the apartment, I thought it was..."
Nicholl McGuire


Guest Cards: Good Leasing Agents Follow Up

I know it can be irritating to receive a phone call from a leasing agent about a property you just visited, but keep in mind, they are just doing their jobs.  You filled out a guest card when you toured the property. After you left, the leasing agent is supposed to file your information and then contact you either the same day or within a 24 hour period to see how your apartment shopping experience is going and what might he or she can help you with.  At a later date, the agent will call again to see how everything is going.  The visitor will most likely update the staff and request not to be contacted again if he or she has already found a place.

Sometimes prospects are not completely sold on their decision to move elsewhere, other times money is a temporary issue, a desired suite is not available, or maybe a guest is just looking for now.  Whatever the reason, there is still that possibility that a visitor just might change his or her mind and return to the property.

One of the issues I have noticed over the years with some leasing agents is they didn't bother to follow up with visitors after their first visit; therefore, they missed out on a potential resident.  Competitors made the necessary contact and made their offers just a little more sweeter. 

Consider this, a leasing agent who failed to follow up literally lost the company thousands of dollars!  Taking a moment to make a simple phone call just might be the best thing a prospect and a leasing agent could do for one another.  The potential resident could share his or her concerns and how might they be addressed.  The leasing agent could offer more options.

So if you are the leasing agent or the visitor do make the time to follow up with one another.  Share what is on your mind.  Is there an additional incentive being offered by the competition?  Would you have liked to look at more available suites?  Is there another property with the same company better suited for the prospect?  You will never know if you don't follow up.


Winter Time is Slow Moving for the Apartment Industry

Attempting to seek your ideal spot during the winter isn't an easy feat.  Most renters are not interested in moving during this time of year unless they have to.  So when the timing is off and the pickings are slim, it is best to shop for now rather than commit to anything you aren't completely sold on.

As for the apartment industry, many staff utilize this time to push those suites that have been sitting for awhile.  They will lure shoppers by offering deals such as a discount on the first month's rent.  They might even include some freebies, coupons, services, or upgrades.  However, do keep in mind this question, "Why has no one rented this apartment yet?" 

There are many factors as to why a suite sits for months.  Sometimes it is in an unsatisfactory location in the building such as: near noisy water piping, a trash chute, or high traffic area.  Look around the suite.  Notice how hot or cold it is.  Pay attention to details such as flooring, windows, pipes under sinks, electrical outlets, and appliances.  Also, use your nose when touring an apartment unit and complex.  You will discover that some units have issues with molds and mildews.  If you should smell a strong bleach smell throughout the suite, most likely someone was doing more than just cleaning.  This person most likely was trying to kill some molds somewhere in the unit.  Look for evidence.

To your success in finding the apartment you so desire!

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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media