Home Help: Quick, easy fixes for apartment-dwellers

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

How To: Make fixes to reclaim your security deposit

Whether you're renting a truck or paying for movers, costs can add up quickly when you're changing residences. If you've been renting, the full return of your security deposit may come as sweet relief as you move from one place to the next.

Because you've been without that healthy chunk of change since moving in to the place you're now leaving, anything less than a full refund would be a disappointment. It would be a shame if a spot on the carpet, a broken blind or knick gave your landlord a reason to withhold a large portion, or all, of your security deposit.

With a careful eye and some elbow grease, you can ensure that you get your full deposit back:

- Work with your landlord. Obtain a list from your landlord that defines normal wear and tear, as well as tasks that must be completed upon moving out. If possible, have your landlord do a walk-through with you before moving out. If not, take photos so you have proof of the condition your residence was in when you left.

- Pack first, clean later. While cleaning and making minor repairs are integral to getting your deposit back, it's a lot easier to do once everything has been cleared out of your residence.

- Dust and vacuum. Do not limit to just floors and obvious places. Dust light fixtures, ceiling fan blades and around the windows. Vacuum closets and under appliances.

- Clean appliances. Check the manufacturer's website for instructions on cleaning the oven. This can take hours, so budget your time accordingly. Clean the refrigerator with a warm, soapy rag and move shelves to be cleaned to the sink. Dry the shelves before returning to the fridge. A handy trick for cleaning microwaves is to fill a microwave-safe bowl with water and half a lemon and heat it for a few minutes. Remove the bowl, wear an oven mitt and wipe down the inside with a wet rag. Clean the exterior of your washer and dryer and remove lint.

- Make sure the kitchen and bathrooms are spotless. Use specialty cleaners for toilets, sinks and other surfaces if necessary.

- Touch up walls. Use lightweight joint compound for nail holes and wall repair patch over larger holes. Let the filling dry, sand and paint. For cracks, use wall repair tape, let dry, sand and dust. Reapply and follow the same process before painting. To find the right paint, take a chip of paint to a home improvement store and have it matched to the original paint color.

- Clean carpeting. Before spot-cleaning the carpet, test the carpet cleaning product in an out-of-sight area.

- Replace broken items. Look for burnt-out or broken light bulbs both inside and out and replace. Check for blinds and shades that are broken.

- Clean up outside. Pick up trash. Mow and sweep if necessary.

-- ARA

Decorating Tip: Add personality to bedside table

Don’t neglect your bedside table when you’re styling your bedroom.

Urban: For an urban feel in your bedroom, less is more. Only allot space to items you consider absolutely necessary, like an alarm clock and lamp. Add one beautiful item, such as flowers or an artful object, and add something personal -- a photo or beloved book.

Exotic: Pair an angular modern lamp with a wrapped-wicker nightstand for globe-spanning style. Showcase tropical greens simply in a clear cylindrical vase.

Romantic: Combine a writing table and wicker boxes for a rich feel. Choose a swing-arm lamp, and keep the look soft with a bowl of mums and a blanket displayed below.

-- Better Homes and Gardens,

Home-Selling Tip: Keep your home accessible

Make sure the lock to your front door works easily and the key fits properly. When a potential homebuyer comes to visit your home, the agent uses the key from the lock box to unlock the door. If there is trouble working the lock while everyone else stands around twiddling their thumbs, this sends a negative first impression to prospective homebuyers.


Did You Know …

German police say a man used a meat hook to steal electricity from a high-voltage transmission line and siphon it into his home.

Home Improvements: After you upgrade appliances …

The cash-for-appliances rebate program encourages you to replace inefficient appliances with higher-efficiency models. What are you supposed to do with an old appliance?

- If it's in good condition, you could donate it, sell it on Craigslist, or offer it up through Freecycle or some other similar service.

- You could call an appliance-repair shop or a scrap-metal company to see whether it wants the appliance for parts or scrap. The company might even take it away for you.

- If you buy from certain retailers, you can take advantage of their haul-away program.

- Take it to a municipal or county facility or arrange for curbside pickup. Call your public-works department for details.

-- Consumer Reports

Garden Guide: How to transplant lilies

Fall is the best time to transplant lilies and other summer blooming perennials, but not the only time. If you need to move lilies this spring, follow these steps:

- Identify and prepare the new location where you are planting the lilies. Fill a container with moist compost.

- Dig a 1-foot deep hole beyond where you believe the bulbs are. Work your way toward the bulbs, pushing the shovel blade beneath the bulbs and lifting up.

- Place bulbs in the compost to prevent them from drying out. Be careful not the break the new stems.

- Replant as soon as possible. Plant the bulbs at the same depth as they were at their original location.

-- Master gardener Peter Coppola

Backyard Buddies: Keep birds from eating fruit

You love to feed the birds in your backyard, but you don’t want them snacking on your fruiting plants. Here are some tips to keep birds from harvesting your fruit trees and shrubs:

- Hot caps (opaque plastic "hats" used to cover young plants in the spring to prevent freezing) and inverted crates can keep starlings from pulling up small plants.

- Netting may keep starlings, catbirds, orioles, robins, blackbirds and jays from your grapes, apples and raspberries.

- Placing feeders filled with sunflower, millet, nectar and peanuts nearby may distract birds from your plants.

-- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

GateHouse News Service