When you’re moving into a new apartment, it can be tempting to immediately unpack your stuff and set about making things cozy. Start off with these decorating tricks that will make your home look more expensive.
But stop right there.
More than likely, along with your first month’s rent, you’ve handed over a security deposit to your landlord. The purpose of that deposit is to cover any damage to the apartment that happens during your lease. If there’s no damage, you should get your deposit back when you move out. Sounds simple enough, except the fact is that disputes over security deposits are the most common disagreement between landlords and tenants. One reason for this is that during the lease, it’s easy to lose track of whether this hole in the wall or that crack in the window pane were there when you moved in, according to a spokesperson at Trulia, an online source of real estate listings and information, which is why they recommend that as soon you move in, you take the time to create a photographic record of the condition of the apartment—every last nook and cranny of it.
Before you can get to every last nook and cranny, you’ll need to make sure that neither the prior tenant nor the landlord has left anything behind. “Make sure the place is empty before you begin moving in,” advises New York real estate agent, Donna Gordon, because that nightstand or that poster on the wall might be concealing damage, even inadvertently.
Once you’ve confirmed that nothing’s been left behind, take a walk through the unit with your landlord. Make sure to record things such as the condition of appliances or the fresh paint on your bathroom walls. Your photos should depict the overall space (entire rooms) as well as the tiny details (get close-ups of any existing damage). If possible, record your walk-through on video. However you choose to record it, email the resulting file(s) to your landlord that very same day so that you both have a digital and time-stamped record, advises Trulia’s spokesperson.
In your walk-through, focus on the following features:
Chances are, previous tenants have hung photos, mirrors, shelves, and the like. Sometimes the resulting nail holes go unnoticed by the landlord until it’s your turn to exit the lease, at which point, it’s your security deposit that may be in jeopardy.