Mistakes Renters Make

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Mistakes Renters Make

By Alisa Bashaw

Rent or buy? It is the proverbial housing question. There are pros and cons to both and yet people will vehemently argue their choice to the death.

“Why throw away on a rental when you could be putting that money into equity like a ?”

“Ah, but what about the housing crash? Now, so many people are upside down in their homes and I have the luxury of not even having to worry about .”

         My mom just recently transplanted herself over to South Carolina and rented a big . She has owned a home for a good part of her adult life. Now that she is a few years away from she is loving the fact that there is no yard work, no , no maintenance, and there is a pool/hot tub/gym/ and rec center to use anytime. Unfortunately, my mom has been out of the game for quite a while and forgot the rules of renting and the that can make. Luckily, my family and I have been renting for quite a while.

So, let me share a few tips on the mistakes that renters make;

Don’t forget to document the apartment’s condition

        One of the biggest mistakes renters make is to walk into a new place and automatically accept it. That is the very last thing a renter should do. You can bet your bottom dollar your new landlord has taken pictures of every nook and cranny of your new home for their records and you need to do the same. Anything that you notice is damaged or imperfect needs to be documented. If you are thinking,

“Well, Alisa how do I know what is considered imperfect?”

Simply ask yourself this question when you are walking through the home,

If I was a landlord would I consider this damage? And if so, could I be held liable for the damage when I move out?

If the answer is yes, maybe or I don’t know. Document the damage with pictures and notes. Then send that information via registered letter to your landlord.

Making too many personal changes

       Personal changes are wonderful. They turn a simple box of wood and paint into a home. However, some people move into a rental and start making it theirs a little too literally. Remember, this is a rental. You don’t own nor do you own any rights to it. In some leases, you have to get permission to hang pictures on the walls, have a limit to how many pictures can be hung, and have to have permission to hang curtains. Make sure you know these limitations. If you want to make personal changes there are ways to do so that no damage will be done.

Do you not like the flooring? Buy a rug and put it over it. Yes, you can do that even over carpet.

Wish you could change the wall color?

Well, if you rent that is a wish that would normally never come true until now anyway. Here is an incredibly easy way to dress up your walls without creating any damage.


  • Fabric of your choosing
  • Liquid starch
  • Sharp utility knife
  • Straight pins
  • Small foam roller
  • Large putty knife or other straight edge tool


  • Start by cutting your fabric to fit that wall that you what changed. Make sure you leave a few extra inches on each side to accommodate shrinkage. It is a good idea to wash and dry your fabric beforehand so that the colors do not run when the liquid starch is applied.
  • Apply the liquid starch to the wall with the foam roller in sections. If you cannot find liquid starch you can make your own. Mix ¼ cup corn starch into ½ cup cold water, then add 4 cups of boiling water and mix it all up.
  • Place fabric over the starched section of wall, making sure to keep your pattern straight. Then roll your foam roller will liquid starch over the fabric.
  • Smooth the fabric out with the putty knife and use the straight pins to help hold the fabric in place, if needed. Let it dry completely. If your fabric bubbles up after drying you can go back and roll more starch over the section to smooth it out.
  • Use a sharp utility knife to trim away the excess fabric.
  • If you have edges that are driving you nuts use coordinating ribbon and run it along the edges to hide the edges.
  • When it is time to move simply soak a sponge in water and soak the corners of the fabric until the fabric peels away from the wall. Then peel the fabric off the wall and VIOLA! Simply wipe the wall down with water and it’ll be good as new.


       When you rent it is easy to not be concerned with the small things that happen in a house. Spill a glass of red wine on the carpet…eh, so what it’s just carpet. It is that thinking that will cost you more, in the long run. Treat your rented home as though you own it. Doing so will save your security deposit and other money that your landlord would be entitled to.

Not repairing damages

       If you caused damage it is imperative you fix them right away. By letting the damage sit unfixed you may be causing more damage in the long run and costing yourself more money.

Not reporting

       From a leaky pipe under the kitchen sink, to a loose tile, to scratches on the wall, if you do not inform the landlord of a problem it could become a big problem down the road. Take, for instance, that leaky pipe. If you ignore that leak it could end up warping the cabinets, cause black mold, and structural damage to the floor and because you failed to notify the landlord you could be held liable.

Not cleaning regularly

       You may be looking at this and be thinking “Well duh.” But this is incredibly important. If you thought of all the things that you love to do in your spare time, cleaning is probably not one of them. Cleaning your home consistently will save you a giant headache when it’s time to move out. Most cleaning schedules lump yearly cleaning in one category which sticks in your head that it needs to be done at one time and can feel overwhelming. We have broken it down so it won’t seem like a mountain looming over your head.

Here is a Suggested Cleaning Schedule

House keeping starts with a good cleaning schedule, and there’s nothing like walking into a house that smells as good as it looks


Daily –

  • Make the beds
  • Pick up dirty laundry
  • Do laundry
  • Wipe down dirty counters and sink in the kitchen
  • Do dishes
  • Sweep kitchen floor
  • Wipe down dirty counters and sink in the bathroom
  • Sweep bathroom floor
  • Do a quick room-by-room pickup putting items back in their place

Weekly –

  • Suggested Weekly Cleaning ScheduleEmpty the trash
  • Remove cobwebs
  • Dust ceiling fans, door frames, moldings, picture frames and lamps
  • Remove your knickknacks from your furniture and use a microfiber cloth and furniture spray to clean dressers and tables.
  • Clean mirrors with a glass cleaner and a fresh cloth.
  • Vacuum, start from the farthest point from the door in each room and vacuum your way out
  • Wipe cabinets fronts down
  • Wipe appliances working your way down
  • Empty toasters crumb tray
  • Clean inside the microwave
  • Move all counter dwellers and give the entire counter a good cleaning
  • Do the kitchen sink for last
  • Sweep and mop the floors
  • Spray cleanser on the shower doors and walls, tub and sink
  • Spray cleanser in the toilet to start loosening dirt
  • Remove all counter items and wipe down the counter
  • Clean the toilet inside, outside and behind the bowl
  • Vacuum, sweep and then mop

Monthly –

  • Clean out the refrigerator. Throw out old food. Wash down the shelves and veggie bins using vinegar water. Replace box of baking soda.
  • Vacuum lamp shades, upholstery, including under couch cushions
  • Dust air vents, ceiling fans, light fixtures and moldings
  • Clean the top of the fridge and kitchen cabinets
  • Wash and deodorize inside of garbage cans and wastebaskets
  • Clean washer, dish washer and coffee pot by running vinegar water through them
  • Vacuum mattresses and flip them if necessary

Yearly –  

  • Suggested Cleaning ScheduleJanuary: Clean medicine cabinets, tossing out any expired medications
  • February: Clean all the hard-to-reach places like behind the stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, sofas
  • March: Wash duvets, blankets, comforters, spreads, and pillows
  • April: Wash windows (inside and out) and the screens
  • May: Organize the pantry and kitchen cabinets deep cleaning the inside and out
  • June: Steam-clean the carpets
  • July: Clean and organize the garage and or basement. (fyi also a great time to hold a garage sale and make some extra money)
  • August: Clean out drawers and closets. Donate usable clothing and items to charity
  • September: Wash walls and use touch up paint where necessary
  • October: Defrost and clean freezer, deep clean inside and out of stove and oven
  • November: Polish silver, wash china, dust and clean inside and out of the china cabinet
  • December: Clean and organize personal files

       By keeping up a clean home not only will you feel better but your landlord will love you more and you will get more money back when you move out.

       When you are renting you are living in someone else’s property and you have to treat it as such. It is your home but it has been someone’s home before you moved there and it will be someone’s home when you move out. So it is important to treat it with a certain amount of respect. Your wallet will thank you when you get your security deposit back and in saved costs.


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