One of the biggest benefits of renting versus buying a place of your own is that you usually don’t have to worry about those pesky maintenance needs like mowing a lawn or replacing a hot water heater. And while most rental agreements include a landlord who takes care of your major maintenance worries, there are a few things you can do to keep service calls to a minimum and protect your security deposit in the long run.
1. Avoid a Deep Freeze
If you have a manual freezer, defrost it at least once a year or if there is more than 1/4 inch of ice built up. When defrosting, remember to warm it up rather than chip away. Empty the contents, place towels underneath, and either let the ice melt at room temperature or – if you’re pressed for time – by using a blow dryer. When the ice is melted, wipe it clean, bring your freezer back to the appropriate temperature and restock.
2. Rout Grout Problems
Gaps and chips in your shower grout are worth calling your landlord about, because they could lead to significant water damage (AKA a big headache for your landlord and you). Luckily, a good scrub as part of your regular cleaning routine can ensure you do your part to ward off nasty mold and mildew, and help ensure there are no cracks that could lead to problems in walls and floors.
Pro Tip: Baking soda, vinegar and a little warm water can work wonders with grout stains. If the stains still won’t come up, break out the big gun – hydrogen peroxide.
3. Dodge a Dust Up
If your heating and air conditioning units are easily accessible, vacuum the vents before using them for the first time each year – or ask your landlord to do it. Regular vent cleaning and filter changes ensure proper air flow. Also check that furniture and curtains don’t cover vents. Besides potential maintenance issues, it could become a fire hazard.
4. Keep Clogs at Bay
We probably all know not to pour oil and grease down the sink but avoiding other solids like coffee grounds will also keep your pipes flowing. If you have a sink with a garbage disposal, avoid dumping chemicals in the drain to clean it. In the bathroom (gross out alert), remove hair from drains right away rather than washing them down.
Pro Tip: Once again, baking soda and vinegar are your friends. After removing the drain cover, pour in some baking soda followed by an equal measure of vinegar. Allow it to fizz for a few minutes, then run water. Not only will you relive your favorite sixth-grade science experiment, you’ll get that slow-moving drain flowing once more.
5. Detect and Deter Smoke
Use Daylight Savings Time to remind yourself to do more than reset your clocks. Reset the batteries in your smoke alarm, too.
6. Yep, Nailed it
One common barrier to getting your entire security deposit back is leaving nail holes sprinkled across the landscape of your walls. If you’re planning on moving out soon, take the time to patch small nail holes.
Pro Tip: Bigger holes will require a patch kit of some kind but believe it or not, crayons are a great way to patch small nail holes. Use enough pressure when you’re coloring over the hole so that the wax fills in the hole. Warm the crayon if needed to soften the wax.
7. Look for Lightbulb Moments
As you walk from your car to your building, keep an eye out for burned out bulbs. Ask your landlord to replace any that are missing from your building, porch or garage. Not only do well-lit areas keep you from tripping on that last step, they can help deter crime.
8. Insure Your Peace of Mind
Starting around $10 a month, renters insurance – a must for any savvy renter – will not only cover your belongings since your landlord’s policy usually doesn’t, it will also cover things like temporary living expenses and personal liability.
Pro Tip: Purchasing a renter’s and an auto policy together can qualify you for a multi-policy discount. In some cases, the discount actually pays for the renter’s policy. Find an ERIE agent to help you get covered.