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Moving to a new place? Congratulations! Before getting started on making new apartment arrangements, it’s important to make sure all is set with your current place. When moving into a rental, it’s recommended that residents fill out a written checklist with their landlord or building management that details any issues with the dwelling; otherwise, the landlord can hold you responsible for the repairs.
Now that you’re ready to move out, your goal is to return the apartment to the condition as it was when you moved in so you can get your entire security deposit back! Here are some do’s and don’ts that will help.
Do Give Ample Notice
Your lease lists all legal obligations to your landlord. Look closely at the termination clause and know exactly how much notice you’re expected to give when you decide to move out. Your rental agreement should spell out the required notice before vacating the apartment. For most rentals, 30 days’ notice is standard, though 60 days’ notice is gaining ground in some areas. This is true of leases and month-to-month rentals as well. Your notice should be written and dated, including the date you intend to be out of the apartment, and delivered timely to the owner, with a copy for yourself.
Leaving the apartment squeaky clean will go a long way towards making your landlord happy. This means giving it deep attention; scrub floors, sinks and showers, wipe down blinds and the insides of cabinets and drawers. Doing a little at a time in the weeks leading up to moving can make it easier.
Of course, you can hire someone to clean for you instead. If this is in your budget, go for it and to focus on other tasks.
Don’t Leave On Bad Terms
Regardless if you’ve been a great tenant for years, the property owner can be upset if you leave on bad terms. No matter what, do not sneak out! You don’t want to be one of those people. You know the type, the people that sneak out in the middle of the night, leaving a pile of trash and unpaid bills. It’s illegal to do this in most areas, not to mention you need a good rental reference for your next place. If you’re moving into a new rental, this landlord will likely be the first person contacted for a reference, so try and keep things amicable, even if there are disagreements.
Do Document the Condition Upon Leaving
Take photos after everything is removed and the cleaning is done. If a dispute arises, you can document that you left the premises in good condition. You might ask your landlord to perform a walk-through inspection a few weeks before you move out. If there are any issues they’d like addressed, you'll have a chance to correct it. Always ask if there is anything further you need to do to get your full deposit back.
Do Fix What You Can
If you’ve caused damage to the rental, fix it. Remove nails and spackle small holes. Filling holes in the walls is a must, and check your lease to see if you’re required to do more in the way of painting. Some landlords demand that renters paint the house “renter’s white” upon moving out.
If your kids have spilled grape juice on the new carpet or put a baseball through a window, be honest. Either fix it or pay to have it done. Make sure repairs are compliant with the lease and to the landlord’s liking or else minor damage might be perceived as major.
Don’t Sublet Without Approval
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Subletting is not always an option. If your lease specifically says you cannot sublet, don't bother even trying. It’s also important to note that you need to find someone you can trust completely because you will still be legally responsible for the property. The exception is if your landlord allows the new renter to apply, pay a security deposit and sign their own lease. If you sublet, you also have to make sure the person will pay you on time so you can pay the landlord. You may want to consider having their rent due on a day mid-month to ensure you have it on time.
Don’t Forget to Move Your Utilities
Call each utility service provider to transfer or discontinue the utility service. Give them the exact date you need the service turned off or transferred by. Ideally, you should call them at least a month in advance. Ask them what you need to do and whether you will need to be present when the utilities at your old address are turned off. You don’t want to be stuck paying the new tenant’s utility bills after you’ve moved out.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
Whether you’re DIY moving or hiring a moving company, don't wait until just few days before your move out date to coordinate the move out process. Trucks rental companies may be all out of trucks and moving companies may be fully booked. Don’t be that tenant who makes it difficult for the landlord to repaint the apartment in time for the new tenant to move in.
If you have followed our moving out tips above and you have left your apartment in great shape, the landlord should refund your full security deposit, less any unpaid balances or charges for damages other than normal wear and tear. Provided you didn’t violate the lease, your landlord won’t have a valid reason to hold onto your deposit. You should expect a check from the landlord within 21 calendar days after moving out.
What do’s and don’ts have you learned over the years?