A Renter's Obligations

Moving is an exhausting process, from finding a new place to live to hiring reputable moving companies to boxing your belongings and unpacking. So it's easy to understand why many renters tend to overlook important details before they move out. In the rush to wrap things up and move into their new residences, people occasionally forget their obligations as a tenant, and that can come back to haunt them.

How much notice are you required to give before moving out? A minimum of 30 days notice -- in writing -- is standard procedure. (Make a copy of that letter for yourself.) That gives the landlord or management company adequate time to find a new tenant to fill your apartment, and time for the maintenance staff to clean the unit prior to the arrival of its new resident or residents.

Aparment Moving

Tenants moving out often find they need additional time to clean their apartments after packing is over. It stands to reason, then, that the next most frequently asked question is how long they're allowed to remain in their apartments after their lease expires or they've given notice that they're breaking their leases. The safest answer to that question, and the one you're most likely to get if you ask your landlord or leasing representative, is that you're required to be out by the time your lease expires -- meaning by the end of the month.

Management companies and some landlords have been known to be flexible with departing tenants, and they generally appreciate a tenant's efforts to clean the unit before he or she departs. Your request for a few extra days to vacuum and pack up the last of your belongings will often be met with agreement, but don't be surprised if your landlord or management company asks for a daily fee in return for their flexibility. That's perfectly within their rights, according to the real estate law books, so there's not much you can do when faced with a fee -- except to hurry up and move out.

Do you have to leave your apartment as spotless as it was when you moved in? The answer is yes. Err on the side of "too clean" in order to prevent your deposit from being reduced. You don't have to hire a professional carpet cleaning company. But by all means, vacuum the floor, dust every surface, and consider wiping down the windows with a little glass cleaner. It doesn't take long, and it leaves a good impression. Depending upon who leased you your apartment, you could be faced with a reduced deposit -- or even no deposit. Instead of getting involved in the hassle of debating those points with your soon-to-be ex-landlord or Management Company, spend a good half-hour giving your empty apartment a once-over.

Generally, you don't have to repaint your walls unless you changed the paint color while you lived in your apartment, and your lease stipulates that you restore the wall color to its original condition before you leave. If you rented your apartment from a management company, inquire if they have a mover's checklist to help you inspect your unit before moving out. You may even request an informal inspection from a leasing agent or landlord after you clean the unit. At that time, the inspector can inform you if you've missed any spots and help you prevent any deductions to your deposit.

If you've caused damage to your apartment during the time you've lived there, you're going to face either a considerable deduction from your deposit, or you may not receive any of your deposit back. If the landlord or management company decides the cost of the damage exceeds the amount of your deposit, it's within his/her/their rights to sue you for the difference. Owning up to the damage and paying for it immediately is the best way to avoid major headaches.