The Essential To-Do List Before Moving Out of an Apartment

Moving can be exciting and overwhelming. There’s so much to do! Before you’re elbow-deep in packing peanuts, let’s make sure you are taking all of the necessary steps to move out of your current apartment. You want an easy transition to your new place, and you want to do everything you can to try and get your security deposit back, so let’s review what you need to do before you move out of your apartment.


To know exactly how much notice you need to give before moving out of your apartment, check your lease. Apartment communities can require notice of 30 days, 60 days, or even 90 days, so make sure you check this well in advance. If you don’t give proper notice, you could lose your security deposit or be held responsible for several months’ rent. The delivery method should also be specified in your lease. Usually, a written notice is required (use this notice to vacate template if you’re not sure how to write one).


If you paid first and last month’s rent in addition to a security deposit when you moved in, be aware that the security deposit and last month’s rent are different, even though the amounts might be the same. The security deposit covers any damages to the apartment. The last month’s rent, which you paid when you signed the lease, means you won’t owe a final payment at the end of your lease term. Even though the amounts may be the same, your security deposit can’t be used to cover your last month’s rent.


Your renters insurance should move with you, but you’ll want to contact your carrier as soon as possible about your upcoming move. Be aware that your premiums may be adjusted based on your new apartment. Depending on your policy, you may have 30 days to contact them about your move, but it’s a good idea to do this as soon as possible. Some renters insurance will cover belongings during a move, so now is a good time to review your policy and ask questions, as well.


Two weeks before you move, call your utility providers and schedule your turn off/turn on dates. You want to turn the utilities off at your current apartment the day after you move out (to avoid the electric and water being shut off while you are trying to move boxes — especially in the summer). This is also handy if you want to do a last-minute vacuum after all of the boxes and furniture are out of the apartment. Schedule the utilities to be turned on at your new apartment the day before you move in (so you’ll have electric and water when you are moving in). 


In order to get your security deposit back, you’ll need to undo any damage you caused in the apartment. That lovely photo collage over the couch, for example, likely left lots of holes in the wall that will need to be filled. If you painted a wall, you’ll likely have to paint it back to its original color (unless you made other arrangements with your landlord). If you switched out light fixtures, blinds, or drawer pulls, all of those need to be returned to the originals. Look for any pet damage, dings or scratches that weren’t there when you moved in, and stains on the carpets.  If you can fix it, do so. If you can’t, be aware that it will likely come out of your security deposit.


You want your apartment to sparkle, so get out the mop and broom and get busy. Try to get your apartment as close to its original move-in condition as you can. Some normal wear and tear is to be expected, but make it your goal to erase the year (or years) you spent in the apartment. If you aren’t sure you can tackle the cleaning yourself, you may want to consider hiring a cleaning service to get your apartment in tip-top shape.


Once your apartment is sparkly clean, take a few pictures! Not for the memories (although a selfie or two might be nice), but just in case you need proof of the apartment’s condition. If your landlord spots something after you move out, you can refer to your pictures to see if it is something you overlooked or if it possibly occurred after you vacated the property.


Your apartment community may need advance notice if you will have moving assistance, whether that’s in the form of extra people and trucks or a moving company with a van. If you live in a gated community, check with the property manager about how to get people in and out. Some apartment communities may leave the gates open when a resident is moving in or out, so be sure to ask ahead of time. If movers will have to park along the street, the apartment manager may have to notify the city, so it’s especially important that you give them plenty of notice.

If you live in an apartment with an elevator, ask your apartment manager about scheduling elevator time or possibly using the service elevator.


Once your apartment is clean and empty, schedule a walk-through with your landlord. Your landlord may arrive with checklists: the one you filled out together during your move-in walk-through and a new one you’ll fill out during your move-out walk-through. Try to be there for the move-out inspection, if possible. This way you can discuss any issues on the spot and agree to any necessary repairs, eliminating any unwelcome surprises when it comes time to get your security deposit back.


You can do this at your local post office or online at Be sure to give your new address to anyone who might send you mail, from your bank to your employer to your grandma. If you have a roommate, they will also have to fill out their own change of address form.


Find all of your keys. If you gave one to your mom so she could water your plants or let your dog out, be sure to get it back. If you have separate keys or cards for the security gate, swimming pool, mail room, or fitness center, locate those as well. Be sure to return all keys and cards to the property manager or landlord when you are completely finished with the apartment. If one is missing, you will likely be charged to replace it.


Whether you are moving to a new state or down the block, having a new home is always exciting. Hopefully, you were able to transition easily from your old apartment into your new one by following these suggestions. If you are still looking at apartments, this new apartment checklist might help you find the perfect new place.

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