How to Prepare Your Apartment for Moving Out

By Danni White on May 23, 2017

Image via Thumbtack

Moving can be an exciting and fun time but it is not without its challenges especially if you let all the excitement get in the way of serious things you need to pay attention to before closing the door for the last time at your old place.

Now that you’ve found your new apartment or home, gone through the application process, and been approved, it feels like a burden has been lifted. That is until you realize all the packing and cleaning you have to do before moving out. To top it off, you might not get your security deposit back if you leave the place a mess.

With that in mind, moving can make for the best and the worst of times. If you’re a little overwhelmed with it all, this checklist will help you prioritize tasks, pack up, clean up, and get your deposit back.

Get organized

There are a lot of details to keep up with when making the transition from your old place to your new one. To coordinate cleaning days, packing days, utility terminations, and moving trucks and crew, get an app [here is a list of very good ones] or use a simple spreadsheet that you can keep on your computer, transport to your phone, and print out to have a hard copy in your back pocket. Getting organized will help to ensure you don’t miss a date or a deadline.

Reread your lease 

I know, I know. Even if you like your old place, you still want to move into your new one as quickly as possible. Before you do, take a few minutes to pull out the fine print, otherwise known as your lease or rental agreement, and read it again. Every landlord or property manager has slightly different procedures and policies for vacating the premises, ensuring repairs, terminating or transferring utilities, and so forth.

The lease or rental agreement will let you know if you’re required to give x-number of days notice and tell you what is expected of you before moving out. This goes back to the point above. List any stipulations in your organizational planner or app of choice along with dates so you can be on top of that.

Plan the actual move

Now that you’re certain you’re moving out, you need to notify those who will be helping you make the move. If you’re moving locally, you may inform friends and family members and ask them for their availability and assistance. If you’re moving a long distance (e.g., to another state), you may consider a moving company with a complete crew and trucks to facilitate the move. This all depends on how much stuff you have, your to and from location and distance, and how much you want to spend.

This is also the time to collect boxes, newspaper, bubble wrap, and other packing essentials to ensure your belongings get transferred safely. If you have renters insurance, be sure to inform the insurance company of the move so they can transfer your policy the day before you move into your new place.

Purge and pack

Now we get down to the hard work of making decisions about what to keep, what to throw away, and what to give away. Go through each room and make a written note categorized into: KEEP (all the items you will take with you); TRASH (what you’ll send to the garbage); and GIVE (the items you will donate to charity or to a church, sell at a garage sale or flea market, or simply give to people you know could use it).

Once you’ve made your list, start putting everything into its assigned categories. If holding a yard/garage sale, set a date and get friends and family to help you advertise. If large items or many items are being donated, consider scheduling a truck or calling the charity to come by your place to pick up the goods.

Terminate or transfer

Approximately two weeks before you’re ready to move out, call the electric, water, gas, internet, cable, and other utility providers to come out and terminate services. If you’re moving across town, you will request for them to simply transfer your services, not terminate them. It is a great idea to have the utilities on in your new place at least a week before you move in.

Thoroughly clean the place

If you’re not quite the cleaning type, plan well in advance to hire a cleaning company who will do a thorough cleaning job of each room in the apartment (of course, only after you’ve moved everything out). Most lease agreements require tenants to return the home to the condition it was when you first moved in. Again, check your lease agreement to make sure you’re doing what is at least acceptable before moving out.

Cleaning up the place thoroughly most likely means patching up holes with spackling after removing nails, tacks, and screws. It could also mean repainting the walls especially if you weren’t supposed to paint them in the first place. Unstop stopped drains, replace doorknobs, fix the broken mirror and blinds. Sweep. Mop. Dust. Wipe. Scrub. Essentially, you want to leave a super clean, entirely empty apartment when you make your move.

Take pictures

After you’ve cleaned the place and fixed any damage, take pictures for your records in case the landlord comes back on you saying “the last tenant” damaged the place. Mail the photos and request that the landlord sign-off on your photos. If he chooses not to, the postmark will help keep your hands clear of any liability.

One last time

After you are certain everything is packed up and out of the house and the cleaning is done, walk through each room one last time and make sure nothing has been overlooked. If it is okay with your landlord, schedule a walk through with him or her so you both can be sure everything is taken care of. Sign any vacating or end of lease paperwork. Return the keys. And collect your deposit. Why not? At this point, you’ve earned it.

I know this probably sounds like a lot, and it is, but you really can do this. By the time you get settled in your new place, you’ll be glad the hard stuff is behind you.

Danni White is a developmental psychology graduate student at Liberty University. She works in the digital publishing, media, and technology industries. After this degree, she will go on to work on a PhD in social psychology in which she hopes to do research on perception and social cognition’s impact on human behavior. She hopes to apply this research in corporate HR departments and community-based organizations. In her otherwise limited spare time, she blogs, writes and reads. She loves coffee, sports, music, cooking, meeting new people, and binge watching Netflix.

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