How to Properly Vacate an Apartment — Part 2
For tips and advice on giving proper notice to your landlord, and what will happen if you have to break your lease, make sure to check out Part 1 of this 2-part series on properly vacating apartments.
After you’ve given notice, there are a few things you’ll need to do to properly vacate your apartment.
First off, contact your utility companies and schedule disconnects so that you won’t be paying for utilities you are no longer using! Make sure to get back any security deposits from you utility companies as well.
Next, ask your landlord if you can do a “pre-move out inspection.” This is where your landlord looks over your place and lets you know what, if any, damages they would deduct from your security deposit. This gives you the chance to take care of these issues before moving out, giving you a better chance of getting your full security deposit back. Unfortunately, these kinds of inspections are only available in some states, like California.
If this option is not available to you, then it’s up to you to make sure that money gets back in your pocket!
You have three strategies at your disposal:
1) Clear Communication with Your Landlord:
We can’t stress this enough! Clear communication with your landlord as to exactly what they want and expect of you when moving out can save you a lot of trouble down the line.
Make sure to ask them the following:
Do they expect you to repaint the walls?
Do they mind if you leave anything behind, such as furniture, toilet paper, lightbulbs, drapes or cleaning supplies? While you might think you’re doing the new tenants a favor by leaving things behind, you might end up just annoying your landlord, who would now be responsible for getting rid of everything.
2) Clean, Clean, Clean!
When in doubt, leaving your place cleaner than it was when you moved in is a sure-fire strategy for getting back your security deposit.
Remove everything from the walls: staples, nails, thumbtacks, poster putty, etc.
Use a magic eraser to remove scuffs from walls and cabinet shelves. Be careful and test this first, so you don’t take paint off too!
Clean the refrigerator: remove the drawers and shelves from the fridge, and clean them and the entire inside of the fridge.
Clean the oven: use oven cleaner (follow instructions and be safe!) or a baking-soda/water mixture and scrub it as best you can.
Wipe down the interior/exterior of cabinets.
Remove dead bugs from hanging light fixtures, and while you’re at it, make sure all the lightbulbs are working
Clean all sinks, mirrors, toilets, showers and bathtubs.
Clean blinds and windows and clear the dust off of fan blades.
Sweep/vacuum and mop everywhere, using spot treatment to clean carpet stains
Clean blinds, windows, dust off of fan blades.
Don’t forget the outside! Clean up any scattered trash, sweep the front stoop and porch if you have one.
3) Be Prepared
After cleaning, take photos of everything for your records, just in case your landlord decides to keep your security deposit due to damage claims. And if you can (only allowed in certain states), be present for the final inspection. The landlord won’t be able to make anything up with you right there as a witness, and if there are any issues, you’ll be able to explain yourself.
Finally, don’t forget to give (all) your keys to your landlord on your way out!
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