If you’re renting, you’re probably very motivated to make sure your place is spotless before you lock up for the last time, with help from a moving-out checklist. After all, we all want our deposits back!
“The most important thing to consider when you’re preparing to move is that someone is going to move in right after you,” said Chris Day of ApartmentExperts.com in the Austin, Texas area. “And if you leave the rental in less-than-perfect condition, then you may find that the landlord will charge you.”
To get your money back and avoid hassles, Day and a professional organizer teamed up with tips for our blog. So prepare your packing and cleaning supplies, because these suggestions will help you organize for moving day in no time!
Review Your Lease and Give Notice Early
Read your rental agreement and know it well before you move. Is it month-to-month, or does it expire in a year? In addition, how much notice do you have to give: 60 days or 30?
You also need to look closely at what you paid when you moved in.
“You want to verify what is a fee and what is a deposit,” said Day. “A fee you won’t get back, and a deposit you should get back.”
Then review everything with your landlord.
“Cover your bases and talk to your landlord in person, and then send him or her an email detailing what you paid when you moved in and what you’re expecting back when you move out.”
Make Sure to Forward Mail
Don’t leave your mail carrier hanging! Make sure to visit the post office and contact companies and utilities to have them forward your mail to your new address.
You can usually schedule utility changes or shutoff requests within 30 days of your moving day. Check with your local providers to get exact dates in your area.
“When you give your complex or landlord notice, you don’t want the unit to be without power for long, so tell them when you are shutting off power, so they can decide if they want to turn it back on in their name to avoid the refrigerator going stale.”
Go to the United States Postal Service website to schedule your mail forwarding once you know your move-out date and forwarding address.
Add Decluttering to Your Moving-Out Checklist
The less stuff you have, the less you will have to move, so it’s important to clear out all unused or unloved stuff from your space before you start packing.
“The last thing you want is to be crowded in your new home,” said Kathi Burns of Organized and Energized. “If you’re downsizing, consider the amount of storage you will have in your new home.”
Wait to deep clean your apartment until after you have decluttered and packed up your belongings, if possible, so you can get around and under all the spaces.
“As you box up your stuff, clean the space and the item well,” said Burns. “Like your blender – clean it before you box it. You’ll get grossed out if you unpack stuff that’s not clean.”
Make Your Rental Look Like New
Get your deposit back by making your rental move-in ready for the next tenant before you leave. That could mean scrubbing appliances, patching up nail holes, and painting, or at least touching up, the walls.
“When you moved in, your landlord or management company should have given you a condition form to document any preexisting damages,” said Day. “Then when you move out, look at the same checklist. Leave the noted damages alone, but fix any and all others.”
Your complex may store extra paint onsite, so ask if you can use it to do touchups after you fix any damage from nails or screws. This way you won’t have to buy paint, and you know the shade will match.
“Generally apartment managers will give you paint, because it’s less work for them in the end,” said Day.
Don’t forget to clean carpets – especially if you have pets – or buff hardwood floors if they are scratched. You can typically find affordable cleaning equipment for rent at hardware stores.
Ask Your Landlord to Do a Walkthrough
What you and your landlord consider “like new” may be different, so it’s important to ask for a walkthrough to confirm you are both on the same page.
“Ask your landlord or manager to assess the apartment with you, so you can have time to fix things if necessary,” said Day. “Normal wear and tear is not charged to the tenant, but the definition of that varies and can get tricky. It’s good to verify you’re on the same page.”
Before you leave for the last time, do you own walkthrough with your smartphone and slowly take a video to document how you left the rental. This may come in handy later, in case your manager claims you left it in less-than-perfect condition.
“Taking a video saved me money, I swear,” said Day. “I talked to my landlord, because the assistant manager charged me a cleaning fee without looking at the unit. Once I showed him my video, I didn’t have to pay the fee.”
Better to be safe than sorry!