When moving into an apartment, we recommend that residents fill out a written checklist with their landlord that details any issues with the dwelling; otherwise, the landlord can hold you responsible for the repairs. Now that you are 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 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.
Do clean, clean, clean: Thoroughly cleaning means giving it deep attention; scrub floors, sinks and showers, wipe down blinds and woodwork, 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 handle it for you instead.
Do fix what you should: Remove nails and spackle small holes. If your kids have spilled grape juice on the new carpet, or put their baseball through a basement window, be honest and either fix it or pay to have it done.
Do document the condition upon leaving: You might ask your landlord to perform a walk-through inspection a few weeks before you move out, in case there are any issues they’d like addressed. If this is not possible, then snap photos of each room of the apartment before you leave, so you have documentation of its condition.
Don’t sneak out: You don’t want to be 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.
Don’t sublet without approval: Subletting can sometimes be an option. However, check your lease and see if subletting is mentioned; if not, ask the property owner if it is possible. Remember that you are responsible for the subletter’s behavior in this situation.
Don’t leave on bad terms: Regardless if you’ve been a model tenant for three years, the property owner can be upset if you leave on bad terms. If you are 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.
If you have followed our moving tips above, you have left your apartment in great shape and should expect a check from the property owner within 21 calendar days after moving. The landlord should refund your full security deposit, less any unpaid balances or charges for damages other than normal wear and tear.