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How to Get Your Cleaning Deposit Back

Every time you move into a new rental you are asked to put down a cleaning deposit with the rest of your move-in costs. When the lease is up, most people just assume that they aren't going to see that money back. Landlords and apartment companies know this and they aren't going to willingly offer it back you.
When moving in you were given a walk though of your new home and you were told in the paper work that you are to return the property the same condition that it was rented in aside from normal wear and tear that is expected to happen over time. Be sure to ask them what they consider to be normal wear and tear as most places don't consider even the holes left in walls from hanging pictures and such. Get documentation of their qualifications and keep it with your rental agreement paperwork. 
Take pictures of anything that has damage to it when you do your walk through. This includes appliances, carpet, walls and counter tops. Don't leave anything out. If it doesn't look new document it. Be sure to give your leasing agent or landlord copies of everything with the proper dates and explanations. It's easy for apartment companies to blame past tenants mishaps on you and your dollar.
At the end of your lease or rental agreement plan ahead so you have time to go in and do all the necessary cleaning. There is no way that you will ever have a chance at getting your deposit back if you don't even try to clean up after yourself. Ask your leasing office what they look for in their evaluations upon a tenant moving out. They should have a detailed list of what needs to be clean, at what standards and how much they charge for having to clean or replace the item.
Blinds are just one of the items that they will almost always over charge you for if they have to replace them. If yours are too damaged to salvage, take a trip to your local WalMart and pick up a set for $4 instead of being charged around $16 or more. Drip pans are another small item that most do not think about. If they don't look brand new the cleaners are going to toss them and a set can cost you around $20 out of your cleaning deposit. Major appliances needing heavy cleans in and around them will make your deposit dwindle faster than anything else. The worse off your oven, fridge and laundry area are, the more the cleaners are going to charge to do it. As a once contracted cleaner for large apartment companies, our evaluations of an apartment are spiff, easy, regular and heavy. Depending on the disgusting level, we add extra as many times as needed before the heavy and charge accordingly. 
Spiffs shouldn't be charged to you at all. This means that you did a great job on your apartment and we just need to go in and clean up after maintenance or shine up the place a bit. Easy cleans might cost you, but nothing outrageous. Even on easy cleans we only made about $20 depending on the size of the place. Regular cleans will run you around $100. These cleans usually mean that we have to clean some or all of the major appliances but the clean isn't too bad. Heavy cleans will wipe out any deposit you may have and at times you'll even find a bill at your new mailing address to pay the difference. The key factor is to keep in mind that the more things the cleaners are going to have to touch, the more you are going to lose from your deposit.