The Essentials Before Moving Out of an Apartment

You’ve got your eye on a new place and can not wait to move out. Before you sign that new lease and ditch your old apartment, there are something you’ll need to do to transition smoothly and avoid loosing your security deposit.

GIVE NOTICE

The amount of notice required varies based off your lease agreement. Apartments 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 forfeit your security deposit or be required to keep paying rent until your old unit gets rented. 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).

KNOW WHAT YOU’VE PAID

While checking on your time frame for notice, double check if you paid first and last month’s rent in addition to a security deposit when you moved in. Security deposit and last month’s rent are often similar amounts, but are used for different things. The security deposit covers any excessive damages to the apartment, and will be returned if the apartment is found to have no damage beyond normal wear and tear. The last month’s rent, which you may have 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 (unless stated in the lease.)

SWITCH YOUR RENTERS INSURANCE

If you have renters insurance, you’ll want to contact your carrier as soon as possible about your upcoming move. Your premiums may change 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 be sure to check your policy, to avoid paying to insure your things if they are already covered.

SET UP YOUR UTILITIES

Two weeks before moving out, you will want to contact your current utility provider and your new one to schedule when they are turned off/on. To avoid being left without electricity or water on your move-out date, schedule for those to be shut off the day after you move. For your new apartment, schedule the utilities to be turned on the day before you move in (so you’ll have electric and water when you are moving in and out). 

FIX WHAT YOU CAN

One of the most common reason people’s security deposit are not returned is property damage. Holes from picture frames need to be filled in; the masterpiece your child drew on the walls with permanent marker will need to be painted over; any changes you made to the curtains or knobs will need to be returned to how they were. 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, and a professional will charge more to do it. If the repair costs to your apartment exceed what your paid in your security deposit, your landlord can bill you for more money. If you believe the charges are excessive, or false you can contest it.

MAKE IT SHINE

One tip to make your cleaning experience easier is to clean once everything is out. sweeping and mopping around piles of boxes and furniture can lead to missing spots. Try to get your apartment as close to how it was when you moved in as possible. 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 don’t have the time, or your apartment needs a little extra TLC, consider hiring someone to help you. If your landlord hires professional cleaners, it will cost a lot more, and come out of your security deposit.

DOCUMENT YOUR HANDY WORK

After the cleaning frenzy, be sure to take some pictures to document your efforts. 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.

CHECK FOR ANY MOVING POLICIES

Some apartment complexes or gated communities may need advance notice if you will have moving assistance (such as 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. 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 that requires you to use an elevator, ask your apartment manager about scheduling elevator time or possibly using the service elevator.

BE PRESENT FOR THE WALK-THROUGH

Before you head out of town with all your stuff, schedule a time for your walk-through with your landlord. If you are present at the walkthrough, you can discuss any issues on the spot and avoid having things deducted from your security deposit. If you are unable to be there for the walkthrough, see if your landlord is willing to give you the list of what they will be looking at so you can pay extra attention to those things while repairing and cleaning.

CHANGE YOUR ADDRESS

Top priority will be filling out a change of address at local post office or online at usps.com. They will continue to forward mail addressed to you for 1 year, there is a small fee associated with this, but it’s worth it as someone will inevitably forget you’ve moved and send something to your old address. The other important person to inform is your work to ensure all paystubs and tax documents make there way to you.

FIND YOUR KEYS

If you lent out keys to your neighbor to water your plants, be sure to get it back. If you have that spare in some obscure drawer, be sure not to pack it. If there are any keys missing when you move out, your security deposit could be used by your landlord to purchase replacements, or to redo the locks.

GET MOVED

Now that you’ve followed this handy guide, you’re transition will hopefully be quite smooth and you can enjoy making a new place home.

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