Preventative Maintenance Checklist for Apartments

Being a renter may get you off the hook for most maintenance costs, but that doesn’t mean you’re free and clear of any burden on your wallet. Throughout your lease period, keep up with preventative maintenance and use our checklist to make sure you’re walking away from your apartment with the bulk of your deposit.

Preventative Maintenance Checklist for Apartments

Check Your Lease Agreement

Every landlord and leasing company is different, so the items and upkeep you’re responsible for could vary from apartment to apartment. Check your lease to see if you’re responsible for these tasks or others:

  • Replacing light bulbs
  • Replacing air filters
  • Cleaning the dryer vent
  • Maintaining specific appliances
  • Arranging for trash removal
  • Mowing the lawn and removing yard waste

No matter what upkeep is required, it’s best to maintain your home and make your landlord/leasing office aware of any damage. Additionally, it’s always a great idea to get renter’s insurance, even if your lease doesn’t require it.

Walls and Paint

Fill all nail holes in your drywall. We have a handy guide on how to repair nail pops quickly and easily.

If there’s more significant damage to your drywall, such as doorknob holes or moisture damage, you may need a drywall patch kit, which is relatively simple to use. Check out our drywall repair checklist.

When it comes to paint on walls or cabinetry, smudges and wear and tear shouldn’t be a costly issue for most renters, but if you’ve painted something a different color, make sure you return them to their original state.

Porches and Decks

Your porch can easily fall into disrepair if ignored for too long, so don’t get stuck with a bill when your landlord has to fix an issue that could’ve been addressed before the damage got worse. Most porch issues will fall under general wear and tear, but keep in mind that vacating your former living space with missing banisters or guard rails could take a chunk of your deposit. Check for problems periodically:

  • Check for rot at the base of the banisters, railings and spindles.
  • Check for loose wood on the handrails or base structure of your porch.
  • Communicate any damage with your landlord as early as possible.

If you find out that you’re responsible for a porch repair, whether because of negligence or a statement in your lease, Mr. Handyman can help with patio and deck repair services.


Whether it leads to a common area or is a private entrance, a broken or malfunctioning door can lead to an expense when you leave. Keep these preventative maintenance tips in mind:

  • Make sure your hinges are in working condition and properly lubricated.
  • Confirm the chain lock is firmly secured to the door and wall.
  • Ensure the door sweeps are not broken or worn out.
  • Inspect the weather stripping to make sure it’s in working order.
  • Make sure the deadbolt works without any snags or hiccups.


Your leasing office or landlord will typically maintain your windows, as long as the glass isn’t broken due to negligence. Don’t worry about normal wear and tear or smudges, but be aware of your windows’ condition, especially as you near your move-out date.

  • Immediately report any cracks or chips in your window glass to the landlord.
  • Be aware of foggy double-pane windows, which are insulated windows with broken seals.
  • Periodically check the screens for damage or tampering and report any issues to your landlord.

Once again, check your lease to see what window maintenance you might be responsible for. If you’re unsure of how to fix something, our windows and screens maintenance guide is a great place to start.

Floors and Carpets

Carpeting typically lasts five to seven years, but most landlords either replace or shampoo the carpet after each tenant moves out, depending on their length of stay. While regular carpeting maintenance is generally covered by most apartment complexes under general wear and tear, the tenant typically has some basic responsibilities:

  • Clean up spills, pet accidents and any stains that were negligently caused.
  • Vacuum regularly. This will make a big difference!
  • Use rugs in high-traffic areas to protect from excessive wear.
  • Repair light scratches on wooden floors by rubbing a raw walnut (not the shell!) over the scratches. Or try a scratch repair kit from your local hardware store.

Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are a welcome convenience in every kitchen, but many renters and even homeowners don’t know what they can or cannot put down them. To keep your disposal working like new (and eliminate the chance of a bill when you move out), avoid putting the following down the disposal:

  • Potato peels: The starchy peels can build up in and clog your pipes.
  • Asparagus and celery: The stringy fiber of these vegetables can tangle around your blade, bringing your disposal to a standstill and damaging the motor.
  • Bones: Typically, bones won’t be ground up by disposals and will instead move with the blades and exacerbate clogging.
  • Fruit seeds and pits: Avocado seeds, peach pits and similar items will wreak havoc on your disposal and could prove costly.
  • Egg shells: Some believe the membrane on the egg shells lines your disposal and collects debris that lead to clogging or damage.
  • Grease: Clogging happens easily with grease. Never put grease down your drains. Ever.
  • Coffee grounds: Putting grounds down your drain will eventually create a mound of highly caffeinated, malodorous sludge.

Other garbage disposal maintenance tips:

  • When operating your disposal, always run the water at full stream, and let it run for a few seconds after you turn the disposal off. This helps flush out leftover debris and prevent odors.
  • To eliminate foul smells, grind a lemon one quarter at a time in the disposal (peel and all).
  • To sharpen the blades, grind a few small ice cubes in the disposal.

Ovens and Refrigerators

These appliances are easy to overlook if you’re a tenant, but they’re never forgotten by your landlord. Make sure you take the proper steps to maintain these appliances every few months, and pay extra attention to these tasks before vacating:

  • Deep-clean your oven. If your oven doesn’t have a self-cleaning option, use baking soda and vinegar as an affordable cleaning paste.
  • Periodically give your fridge and freezer a thorough cleaning.
  • If you’re moving out, defrost the freezer, and make sure no food is left behind.

Cabinets and Counters

Don’t ignore water stains on cabinets or counters. Even if they were already present when you moved in, they could indicate a leak or structural issue. Pay attention to the following:

  • Periodically check for inexplicable dampness in or around cabinets and counters.
  • Periodically check for leaks under the sink and around the faucet. (Even a small amount of water can lead to water damage and mold.)
  • Disinfect your cabinets every couple of months with a household cleaning solution.
  • Avoid hanging damp towels over cabinet doors.

Miscellaneous Apartment Maintenance Tasks

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure they are in proper working condition throughout your stay and before you move out.

  • When you’re in the process of moving out, take your sliding screen door off the rollers to avoid damaging it as you’re hauling your belongings out the door.
  • If there is a leak from your toilet or another appliance, turn off the water valve next to the broken appliance. (If you can’t find it, turn off the main water shut-off valve.) Then let your leasing office know about the problem.
  • Periodically check light switches you don’t use very often to confirm they are in proper working order. At the very least, check them before you move out.

Professional Handyman Services For Your Apartment

A security deposit is usually no small chunk of change. However, you can recover most of it, if not all of it, if you consistently stay in contact with your leasing office and properly maintain your apartment. Mr. Handyman professionals have all the tools and expertise necessary to help you cross off tasks on your apartment maintenance checklist. No job is too big or too small. Simply request service online or call us.