Moving out from your old apartment to your new place is both exciting and tiring at the same time. However, in most leases, if not all, leaving an apartment a mess can cause you some problems, including losing your security deposit.

However, having a lot on your plate to handle does not give you the right to leave the old apartment in chaos.

In a lot of cases, new tenants tend to give less importance to the vacating section claimed on the lease. They are too much absorbed with the idea of signing the contract and get done with it already.

With that said, before you decide to hand over the key to your old landlord, make sure the apartment looks as fine as the first day you entered it. Here is what you should know about leaving an apartment a mess and how you can save your deposit.

apartment cleaning with baking soda

What to Know About Leaving an Apartment a Mess?

Breaching the lease

The lease agreement is the first thing to look at once you decide to move out. The lease agreement is the legal contract that includes all the detailed conditions and terms by which tenants must respect and abide by.

With that said, leaving an apartment a mess can be a violation of one of these terms, especially if this mess goes beyond the normal tear and wear. As a result, breaching the lease terms comes with inherent risks.

These risks can be financial and in some cases it can lead to some juridical consequence. While some landlords may not stress on it and simply look for another way to deal with the mess you left behind, others won’t. They will do everything they can to recover the loss.

Say goodbye to your security deposit

A security deposit is a specified amount of money the tenant gives to the landlord or renting agency before moving in. It serves as a protection measure for the landlord in case there is a breach of the lease.

This can include moving out before the end of the contract without paying, damage of property, high unpaid bills, and more. If there is no such violation, the landlord is deemed to return the deposit back to the tenant at least a month prior to his/her moving out.

However, it is important to check the law of each state on how and when the deposit should be returned.

In this case, leaving an apartment a mess can risk losing your security deposit. Because of the existing mess and damage, the landlord has every right to deduct a certain amount of money, if not all, from that deposit.  The landlord can verify his deductions by presenting the damage repair receipts.

Practically speaking, if the house is not in the same condition as the first day you moved in, you might as well say goodbye to your deposit.

Extra fees

If the security deposit doesn’t cover the damage left, then you have to be prepared for extra fees. In some cases, the mess is beyond significant, that your 2-month security deposit is unable to cover.

As a result, the landlord can demand you an extra amount of money that you must pay or else you will end up in the court.

For example, if your deposit is £1000 and the damage reparation is £1,250, then you will be charged with an extra £250 to meet the difference.

Bad reference

This is the worst thing that can happen to you as a tenant, a bad reference. Generally, renting agency managers will call your ex landlords for a reference. And if your previous landlord is not happy with the condition you left his apartment, you might face a problem finding a new one.

What to Do Before Handing Your Apartment Keys

Read Your Lease Carefully

Your landlord expects you to leave his/her apartment in a pristine condition once you move out. For this reason, he/she will be stating and detailing these basic conditions in the lease that you should respect and apply.

However, you should also know that there is a certain kind of damage that happens naturally in every unit due to ageing. And this type of damage is usually referred to as Normal Wear and Tear, which is the responsibility of the landlord to take care of.

Apart from that, the tenant has to cover any other damage that does not fit in this category.

Therefore, you must spend some time reading every detail in your lease, especially that some landlords charge additional fees if you don’t care about specifically listed elements.

Do the necessary cleaning

Before the end of your lease, take a look at the house and see if it needs some cleaning or repairing. Cleaning the space is the minimum thing you can do as an act of appreciation to the landlord and as a self-reflection for yourself.

Here are some of the basic cleaning you can do:

  • Empty your trash cans
  • Take all your belongings out
  • Wipe any stains on the walls or floors
  • Clean the toilet, bathtubs, and sinks
  • Sweep the floors
  • Remove dust from the furniture
  • Do some carpet cleaning, if necessary

Repair the damages

Before you hand the keys, make sure to repair all the damages. Scars, holes, and ruins may seem insignificant for you, but for landlords, it’s something that they need to repair. That implies that they can charge you by deducting the fees from your security deposit.

Too busy with other things?

If moving out is already taking too much of your time and effort, you can either call someone to help you or simply use end of tenancy cleaning service.

A cleaning company can do the job for you. Just make sure to be present once they are done to examine the place and ensure that everything is clean and tidy.


All in all, cleaning your rented apartment is one of your responsibilities, and therefore you should comply with it.