How to Properly Vacate an Apartment — Part 1
Dealing with landlords can be a tricky business on the best of days. This 2-part series was put together to help you vacate your apartment as smoothly as possible, ensuring your landlord stays happy, and you leave with your security deposit in hand.
The first step to properly vacating an apartment is giving proper notice to your landlord. What exactly constitutes “proper” notice is determined by your lease. Your lease will tell you how much notice to give (i.e. how far in advance of your move) and how to give it.
Most leases require a notice of at least 30 days, usually by way of a written letter and phone call, clearly stating the following:
That you’re leaving.
Why you’re leaving — Usually because the lease is ending, but if you need to leave before the end of your lease, you need to tell your landlord why.
When you’re leaving — Include a specific date, and stick to it!
The address of your next place — So your landlord can mail you your security deposit.
Two things to consider:
1. Even if you’re leaving on the day the lease ends, you might still need to give notice, as some leases are “self-extending”, meaning they’ll simply continue on until you or the landlord clearly ends it with a written letter. If your lease is not self-extending, then no written notice is necessary, but it’s probably best to call your landlord anyway, if only to let them know you are in fact planning on vacating.
2. Some leases require your move-out date to coincide with the last day of a rental period. So, if you give notice in the middle of the month, the notice period (of 30 days, for example) may not register, and start counting down, until the beginning of the next rental date. Which would mean you’d have to wait more than 30 days after giving notice before you can move out. This is why it’s important to check the terms of your lease!
If You’re Breaking the Lease
Your lease should also tell you what happens if you decide to leave early, before the lease officially ends. Depending on how good your relationship with your landlord is, they may be fine with you leaving early, and not require you to continue paying rent.
If this is the case, it’s best to ask for a written confirmation of this from your landlord, even if you are on good terms. Write to them that you are “surrendering” the apartment and ask for a signed, written confirmation in return, stating that they have agreed to your leaving early and they absolve you of rent responsibility.
Often the landlord will require you to pay the remainder of the rent, however, in which case you are (typically) required to do so. The only exception here would be if the apartment is uninhabitable, due to damages, poor upkeep, etc. If that’s the case you’d need to hire a city inspector to inspect the property and officially deem it uninhabitable, and even then you might still need to go to court to settle the issue. You can also find someone to sublet your place for the remainder of the lease.
If you simply up and leave, without telling your landlord, you will almost certainly not get back your security deposit, and you may be sued for the remainder of the rent — again, check your lease to see what is allowed.
For more tips and advice, make sure to check out Part 2 of this series!
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