Moving to a new home is often a bittersweet process; you feel the excitement of new surroundings and opportunities, but you have to deal with the hard work involved in transitioning. Whether it’s across town or across the country, you may be tempted to set your sights and priorities on your new place and rush through moving out. However, depending on how long you’ve been in your current rental and what all you’ve done to it, you may have some work to do before moving out. Vacating a rental can sometimes be just as much work as moving in. If you don’t know where to start, check out our list of the top five things you should do before turning in the keys!
1. Get Organized
Whether you’ve been living in your current rental for a few months or a few years, take some time to get organized before moving out. When coordinating packing days, utility shutoffs, cleaning crews, truck rentals, home repairs and more, there are a lot of details to keep track of. Utilize a spreadsheet or calendar to ensure you don’t miss a task, date or deadline!
2. Review Your Lease
Each rental agency or property manager has different policies and requirements regarding the vacate notice, checkout, required repairs, utility transfers, etc. Once you know you are moving, pull out your lease and review it closely. If you are required to give notice, be sure you do so by the deadline (it’s usually 30 days out and often in writing). The lease will also stipulate what is expected of you upon moving out and may include anything from professional carpet cleanings and hole filling to final trash pickup and security deposit policies. Be sure to note all of your responsibilities and add those tasks/deadlines to your spreadsheet or calendar.
3. Repair and/or Repaint Your Walls
Almost all rental agencies will require you to return the home to the condition you found it … especially the walls. If you painted the walls, you will likely be required to repaint (or at least prime) them back to their original color. Check with your lease and/or rental agency to determine what colors and/or level of coverage are acceptable for moving out. Similarly, if you hung art, pictures or other things on your walls, you may have to fill the holes. Most agencies have policies about what size of holes must be filled, so get clarification before you fill and sand every last puncture!
If you don’t have the time or interest in taking on these labor-intensive chores, many rental companies have an option to pay instead. Most commonly, agencies will charge a flat fee per wall that isn’t painted back to its original color. Be sure to weigh the time commitment and cost of all options before deciding to do it yourself or paying the fees.
Moving on a budget? Check out these seven tips for saving money every step of the way!
4. Clean, Clean, Clean
Just like painting walls back and filling holes, you may also be required to have your rental clean prior to move-out day. Your lease should indicate what level of cleanliness is acceptable, stipulating if a professional cleaning is required or if a basic wipedown and vacuum is sufficient. Also, be sure to note the requirements for your carpeting. Agencies often require a professional carpet cleaning; and if you have any major stains, they will need to be addressed before you can expect to get your security deposit back. If you plan to clean your unit or carpets yourself, be sure to leave the necessary supplies and equipment to get the job done. If you plan to hire it out, budget for the cost and book the companies early. At peak moving times (like during the summer), cleaning company schedules fill up fast.
5. Move Everything Out
Most rental properties will require that absolutely everything be moved out prior to checkout. While you may be tempted to leave behind cleaning supplies, trash cans, laundry supplies, built-in shelving units or other items specific to the unit, it will likely all have to go. When preparing to move out, think beyond just your clothes, items and furniture. Make preparations to deal with hazardous supplies and chemicals (paint, cleaning supplies, propane tanks), plants, trash, lumber and other items you may not move.
See more strategies for getting the most out of your security deposit.
Vacating a rental can be a good bit of work. Between shutting off utilities, forwarding mail, packing everything up and restoring the unit to its original condition, there are a lot of tasks and details to keep track of. Get organized early, and plan, budget and schedule as much as you can as early as possible to prevent a crazy, last-minute sprint at the very end. With some proper planning and a bit of hard work, you will be sure to get your security deposit back as soon as you hand over your keys!