Cross these essentials off your checklist as you prepare to leave a rental property.

There are few things as exciting as packing up one home with the anticipation of moving into your next. But before you start rounding up your belongings, there are actually a few things you need to cross of your to-do list first—especially if you live in a rental property. From giving your landlord or super notice to vacate the unit and cleaning the space to forwarding your mail, taking care to move out properly (and legally) will ensure your next adventure is as sweet as possible—and unhindered by your last living situation. Ahead, our real estate experts walk you through their best tips for moving out of a rental.

Laughing couple sitting in home surrounded by cardboard boxes
Credit: Westend61 / Getty Images

Give a Notice to Vacate

Before packing up your bags to leave a rental property, you will need to give notice to your landlord. "Most management companies require at least 30 days' notice, but some may require up to 60 or 90 days," Ashley Q. Tillman, a real estate agent and home specialist at Realty One Group, shares. "Review the lease agreement to avoid any fees or the possibility of being in violation of the lease terms." Joanna Mayfield Marks, a licensed associate real estate broker at Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales, LLC, adds that you should give this advance notice in writing.

Clean the Space

Another essential? Make sure to have the space thoroughly cleaned—preferably by a professional, if possible. "Most management companies collect a deposit and/or cleaning fee," Tillman says. "To have this fee fully refunded, most companies require that the property is turned over in a broom-clean condition." Don't forget about the places that are often overlooked, like inside the stove and refrigerator, Mayfield Marks notes. "Once that has been accomplished, take pictures documenting condition and complete a final renter's checklist of property condition comparable to the checklist when you moved in," she adds.

Share a Forwarding Address

"The next thing you will want to do is plan your move," Mayfield Marks says. "Interview moving companies, forward your mail, and purchase boxes." Tillman notes that providing a forwarding address to the management company is critical, in the event they need to send any final information—like payments or refunds. "This way, final refunds will not go unclaimed and final payments left unpaid will not result in balances owed or adverse credit reporting," she adds.

Return Your Keys

Any and all keys and access items you were given once you moved in will need to be returned. Examples include: door keys, pool keys, or gate and garage access remotes.

Verify the Lease

Tillman shares that the last step is to verify that the lease will be properly terminated, fulfilled, and/or ratified. "Do not assume the management company will close out the lease," she advises. "Make it a point to be sure it will be mutually terminated as agreed and ask for an official record of the last and final lease payment received."

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
December 22, 2020
Do the walk-thru with the apt. personel.... address their concerns immediately....write down everything and have them initial...much of their bonus money comes from deposit money not returned to renters so it's in their best interest to find faults...