Moving is stressful even in the best circumstances. It can be expensive, time-consuming and exhausting even when you are excited about your new place. The tips below can help you get through the process of leaving your rented house when the lease is up in the most organized way possible.
- Have a Checklist
You might not think you need a checklist, but you almost certainly do. When moving out of a house, there are many small things you must remember to do. Even the items on this list have many steps involved in them, and you will have your own individual list of things you want to make sure to get to as well. For example, you might want to make sure you have a neighbor come and pick up a piece of furniture you no longer want, or you may need to check that you haven’t left anything in an outside shed. Nothing is too small to add to the list.
It is one of the least fun and most important aspects of moving because if you don’t clean, you are unlikely to see your security deposit again. Even if the house wasn’t very clean when you moved in, you should leave it cleaner than you left it. This requires a deep clean. You need to scrub the walls and the baseboards as well as the tub, the toilet and the sink. If you aren’t a very good cleaner or even if you are, you might want to leave this up to the professionals. This may be particularly true for hard-to-clean items. For example, an end of lease carpet cleaning will probably cost you less than forfeiting your deposit because you thought a quick vacuum would be sufficient.
In addition to cleaning, you need to fix things. This includes filling holes in walls where you may have hung pictures. Most leases and jurisdictions allow for “normal wear and tear” over the course of a lease, but if you are unsure about what constitutes normal wear and tear, it is better to be safe than sorry. Of course, in general you are not considered responsible if an appliance or another item breaks on its own, but you should fix any damage you, your family or your pets have caused. If you balk at the cost of doing this, remember that you’ll probably be charged even more if it comes out of your security deposit.
You did document the condition of the place when you moved in, didn’t you? Most likely, you had a walk-through with the landlord where you marked down the condition of things on a sheet of paper, but if you were really savvy, you might have taken photos or video. Even if you didn’t do any of this on your initial move-in, you should do it on your way out. This gives you proof of the condition in which you left the place in case you run into a dispute with your landlord.
- Change Your Address and Utilities
These might seem like obvious steps, but it can be easy to forget them in all the other hassle of moving. Make sure that you do this in plenty of time for all mail, including any subscriptions, to get switched to your new address and to avoid any delays with your new utilities. Remember that you usually don’t need to contact every organization that sends you mail. Usually, just filling out a card with the post office is sufficient for mail forwarding.
- Do a Final Walk-Through
You may do a walk-through with the landlord on your way out. In fact, this is recommended, because it gives you the opportunity to discuss any issues with cleaning or repairs face-to-face. However, whether or not you have this walk-through with the landlord, you should also do one on your own. Try to look at the place through the eyes of a landlord to make sure you have addressed any issues that may arise. This is also an opportunity to make certain one final time that you aren’t leaving anything behind.
- Get Your Security Deposit
With any luck, this will be a simple, straightforward process. Your landlord will agree that you’ve done a great job getting the place ready for the next tenants and will return your security deposit promptly. Unfortunately, it does not always work this way. The landlord may delay returning your deposit, or you might get a deposit back this is significantly less than you expected. Try to be fair. If your children drew on all the walls in crayon or your pets had a lot of “accidents” on the carpet, the landlord probably had to spend some time and money to get the place back into shape. However, it is also important that you are not taken advantage of. There is probably a tenant’s rights association in your town that can explain to you what your rights are and how to handle a situation in which a fair portion of your deposit is not returned in a timely fashion.
Now there’s nothing left for you to do but leave the keys for the landlord and move on to your new place. Here’s one way to think about the things you should do when you are moving out of the house you leased: Leave it in the condition you hope the new one you are moving into is in. While it’s normal to expect that your new landlord will have inspected the home, cleaned it and repaired as needed, it is also nice to know that the previous tenants left your new home in great condition.