If you want to get your deposit back in full when moving out of your rental, make a checklist. Assuming your landlord is fair and above-board, this checklist will help you make that final transaction as easy as possible.
Check your lease
Most leases indicate the amount of notice time you need to provide prior to your move. In most circumstances, you will need to give notice to your landlord 20 days prior to the end of the month. Also, look and see if they have a written move-out procedure that you need to follow to get your deposit back.
Did you receive a move-in checklist?
You should have! A move-in checklist is an important tool for tracking what damage you did to your place and what damage was preexisting.
If you don’t have a copy, ask your landlord for one. If they cannot provide one, the landlord will have a hard time building a case for how much to charge you for damages, as they cannot accurately assess what damage was caused by you during your tenancy.
Fix what you can
That molding that split when you dropped something on it, that big scratch your favorite chair put in the wall, and other small issues—these things can make a big dent in your returned deposit. Touching up paint and trim are easy repairs that could save you a lot of hassle when its time to ask for your full deposit to be returned.
Thoroughly clean your apartment when you move out. I don’t just mean vacuuming and dusting…you’ll need to deep clean.
Account for how much time it actually takes to deep clean your place. I recommend allocating 4-6 hours. If you’re willing to spend a little money, an easier choice is to hire cleaners to do the dirty work for you. Also, check the blinds; some landlords are real sticklers about cleaning blinds.
On that note…
Who is in charge of getting them cleaned? If it’s not clearly stated in the lease, it’s most likely up to you to have them professionally cleaned before you move out. If the landlord has them cleaned regularly, than you are only responsible for heavy stains. HUD—yes, that HUD—says that the normal life expectancy for carpet is 5 years. After that, it becomes the responsibility of the landlord and should be replaced.
Keys often carry a big deposit. Now is the time to collect all of the keys you gave out to significant others or your best friend to keep you from locking yourself out. Were you given any garage door openers? Make sure you return all keys, fobs, and openers to prevent penalties at move out.
You’ll want to make sure that your mail is going to your new home. Set this up beforehand via USPS.com, or stop into your local post office.
Do you have utilities in your name? You’ll want to call Seattle City Light or Puget Sound Energy and have those accounts closed or transferred to your new address.