Moving Out Of A Rental - Things To Do
Getting a Jump on Moving Day
No one looks forward to moving day, but it's almost as inevitable as death and taxes. If you're planning a move, the kindest thing you can do for yourself, your roommates, and your furry friends is to try to lighten up. It helps to be organized, and start early! Even if you're also juggling finals and goodbye parties, do one moving task a day beginning up to six weeks before your move.

Do-ahead checklist

Giving notice
Most leases and rental agreements specify how much notice you're required to give your landlord before moving—usually 30 days. Put your notice in writing and include that day's date, your unit's number if you're in an apartment, and a forwarding address for your deposit refund. Keep a copy in a safe place.

If you're forced to move before the term of your lease has expired, discuss options as soon as possible with your landlord. In most states, landlords are required by law to hunt for a new tenant as soon as possible, sparing you from paying for the full term.

Ask your current landlord for an extra day or two at the month's end. You may be required to pay a prorated fee, but it's worth it for a low-stress cleaning day. If not, ask your future landlord if you can move in a day or two early.

Moving Checklist
One month in advance
Three weeks in advance
Two weeks in advance
Seven-day countdown
It's movin' time!
Making a Clean Break

Cleaning and deposit

Now that your furniture and boxes are out of the way, it's time to get busy with the all-important job of cleaning. Think of it as being paid by the hour; you want that money back, right? If you're a neatnik, this may be easy, but if you haven't so much as dusted since you moved in or if you're the last to leave a messy four-bedroom house, it could take a day or two.

If your landlord gave you a checklist, follow it closely. If friends are available to help, divide labors based on equipment needed—one of you can scrub the stove while another washes windows and another gets started on the bathroom.

When you're all done, take that tour with your landlord. Inspect every nook and cranny together, and write down any problems. If he or she is dissatisfied with any areas, stay calm, and discuss it on the spot until you agree on a solution. Discuss how much deposit money you should expect, and when you will receive it. In most states, law dictates that deposits (or portions thereof) must be returned within 30 days. Put all of this in writing, and have the landlord sign and date the sheet.

Finally, take pictures of everything—every corner of every room. Photographs will be your best defense if you end up in a disagreement.

In case of dispute

In some states, landlords are required to provide you with an itemized list of deductions. What makes a deduction reasonable? Your lease should spell that out.

If you don't get your deposit back within your state's legal time frame, or if you receive what you consider an unfairly high deduction, follow these steps:

  1. Phone your landlord, and tactfully ask about the delay. Invite him or her to meet with you to review documents and photographs. Sometimes simply showing that you're willing to pursue a solution gets the ball rolling.
  2. If the problem persists, phone your local Better Business Bureau and ask for their advice.
  3. Consult with another neutral third party. Many cities offer publicly funded mediation at little or no cost. Call the office of your mayor or city manager and ask to be connected with someone who specializes in housing disputes or landlord-tenant mediation.
  4. As a last resort, you can contact small claims court. (Then again, simply mentioning court might jog your landlord's sense of fairness.) Filing a small claims suit can sometimes cost more than the money you're trying to reclaim. Find out what your local law says about responsibility for court fees; in many states tenants have no legal mandate to pay for the landlord's attorney fees, even if the lease says otherwise. Contact your state bar association to get a good picture of your options. In many cities legal support is available for tenants at low or no fee.

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Title: Moving Out of a Rental- Things To Do
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