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Renting With Children: 10 “Hypothetical” Reasons You’re Not Getting Your Security Deposit Back

We would leave a rental looking about the same as the day we moved in, and a few weeks later, a pretty little check would come in the mail...
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We have owned a home for just two of our ten years of marriage, rented for the other eight, and been parents for four of those years.

Before kids, we would leave a rental looking about the same as the day we moved in, and a few weeks later, a pretty little check would come in the mail… our security deposit.

But now we have two preschoolers, and I strongly suspect those days of getting our security deposit back are long gone. You *might* be in the same boat if…

1. Approximately two minutes after checking on the kids and finding them playing sweetly in their room upstairs, one of them comes racing downstairs to exclaim with wide eyes, “Mom, hurry! The carpet is burning!” Sure enough, you run upstairs to find that they have (in just two minutes) climbed the shelves in the linen cupboard to get the iron, plugged it in the outlet in your bedroom, and “ironed” the floor. So now you have two dark iron marks on your carpet and a fuzzy iron.

2. Your children have flung the front door open with enthusiastic force (because they father came home from work again!) so many times that now there’s a door knob sized hole in your wall.

3. Speaking of holes in the wall – one of your children might have tried “sledding” down the stairs in his/her doll rocking chair and it (thankfully not your child) went through the wall at the bottom of the steps.

4. Your children have flushed every imaginable toy down the toilet… and then tried “fishing” for them with sticks before you went in to see what was taking them so long in the bathroom. “Uhh, honey? What was the number for the plumber? And why don’t we just have it taped to the fridge? You’d think we would have recognized the need after the whole pennies in the garbage disposal incident!”

5. Playing “ghosts” in the white drapes got a little wild and the custom curtain rod you installed came crashing down – taking a chunk of plaster with it.

6. You’re enjoying the summer evening on the back deck with your husband after the kids go to bed. It’s dark and there are still toys scattered over the deck’s surface. You trip over one on the way back inside and fly through the screen door. So that could be your fault (for not picking up toys) or the kids fault for having toys in the first place. Let’s blame the kids.

7. Your child gets the scissors and is beginning to show signs of wanting to cut his/her hair. You can’t help the screech that comes out of your mouth and, startled, your child drops the scissors and they go right into the kitchen linoleum leaving a nice slice mark.

8. Their artistic sensibilities hit them suddenly and without warning. The only surfaces that will do for their masterpieces are the walls or the refrigerator doors.

9. They discover the only thing more wonderful than eating scooby snacks is mashing them into the living room carpet. And after that gets old they figure out that if you tug hard enough on one string of the Berber carpet it keeps coming and you can just endlessly rip up the carpet. What fun!

10. They think their father’s closet is the best place to hide, play, and pretend they are train engineers. For some unknown reason these games include kicking the door which leads to it coming off the tracks and it’s a perpetual cycle until you finally ban them from Dad’s closet… so they move the fun to their own.

So maybe, hypothetically, that’s why you (or we) aren’t getting the security deposit back. But the silver lining is always the same: children are hilarious, curious, terrifying, creative, exhausting, and amazing. I’d rather have them than my security deposit all day, every day.

(On a completely unrelated note: a mixture of liquid dish soap, white vinegar, and warm water is just the best cleaner for anything in the whole world.) 

Avatar of Lauren Casper

Lauren Casper

Lauren’s essays, known for their vulnerability and personal story-telling style, have appeared on The Huffington Post, the TODAY show, Dailymail, Yahoo! News, and several other publications

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