7 Things You Need To Do Before Moving Out Of Your Rental 

March 24, 2023

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Your lease is almost up on your current apartment. 

You already have a new place lined up and you’re ready for a change of scenery. 

But, before you leave your place behind, it’s important to make sure you move out the right way. 

A tenant move-out checklist is a handy way to make sure the process goes well. 

Here are seven things you should have on your checklist.  

#1: Provide the Required Notice 

The most important part of moving out is providing the required written notice for moving out. Rules differ from state to state, but most follow the same general guidelines.  

How to Terminate a Month-to-Month Rental Agreement 

If you have an agreement that automatically renews each month, the process is fairly straightforward. Most states require you to give 30 days’ written notice to end a month-to-month agreement. Once your notice period ends and you vacate the property, you are no longer responsible for paying rent, even if your landlord hasn’t found new tenants to take your place. 

Be sure to conduct research to ensure you know the rules specific to your state. Additionally, check your rental agreement because it could require that you provide notice on a specific date like the first day of the month. 

How to Terminate a Fixed-Term Lease 

If you have a more common fixed-term lease, which typically lasts for a year, then you must pay rent for the entire year, no matter how much notice you give. Your lease should state the date it ends, and it’s common for it to stipulate that you have to let your landlord know your future plans (e.g., whether you’re staying or moving out). Regardless, it’s prudent to give your landlord written notice that you plan to move to ensure a final inspection.  

No matter what kind of agreement you have with your landlord, it’s almost always better to give notice as early as possible. 

#2: Clean Everything 

You want your security deposit back, right? Of course you do! Cleaning is a critical part of getting your deposit back. The property needs to be in reasonable condition. Here are some cleaning tips that should help you on the road to getting your security deposit back: 

  • Dust and vacuum everywhere you can.  
  • Clean the kitchen appliances. Clear out the fridge. Make sure the sink drains are working properly. Scrub the oven thoroughly.  
  • Don’t leave stuff behind. Although some people may argue it’s best to leave things like toilet paper as a common courtesy, it’s in your best interest to move everything out. Landlords can charge you for items that they have to get rid of. 
  • Wipe down the baseboards. The details matter when you’re cleaning.  
  • Remove cobwebs from walls and ceilings. This is an easy one to overlook, but it’s easy to do and helps give your property a cleaner appearance. 
  • Wash the windows. This is another easy one that will significantly help enhance the appearance of the property. Use a lint-free cloth to wipe off the glass cleaning solution while preventing streaks.  
  • Remove nails and patch walls. If you hung pictures on the walls, be sure to take off any nails. Get some commercial putty and paint the area the same color as the wall. Use a putty knife to apply the product. 

Anything else you can think of? Clean it! Too much cleaning is better than not enough with your security deposit on the line. You don’t need to do a perfect cleaning job, but your landlord probably expects the place to look close to its original state (minus regular wear and tear, of course). 

#3: Understand Final Payments 

If you paid first and last month’s rent in addition to a security deposit when you moved in, understand that the security deposit and last month’s rent are different, even though the amounts may be the same. The security deposit is collateral for any damage to the property. Last month’s rent, if you paid it upfront, means you won’t owe a final payment at the end of your lease term. Your security deposit, even if it’s the same dollar amount, cannot be used to cover your last month’s rent. 

#4: Contact Your Utility Providers 

Call your utility providers two weeks prior to moving out and schedule dates for turning off power at your old place and turning it on at your new place. You should have them turn off the power the day after you move out (imagine moving out on a hot summer day with no electricity and no water). Then, schedule the utilities to come on at your new apartment the day before you move in. 

#5: Contact Your Renters’ Insurance Provider 

You want your renters’ insurance to move with you. Call your carrier and make sure this happens before you move.  

Understand that your premiums may change based on your new living quarters. Depending on the policy you purchased, you may have 30 days to contact them about your move, but you should do it as soon as possible. Some insurance policies will cover belongings during a move, so review your policy and ask questions proactively to save more money. 

#6: Take Photos 

After you take care of everything else on the list, you need to take pictures. If your landlord tries to keep your security deposit, you may need physical proof of the property’s condition. At the very least, you can look at the pictures and see if what they’re talking about is in the photos. You don’t want to lose money for something that you can prove wasn’t there before you moved out. 

#7: Collect Keys 

Collect all the keys. Yes, even the set you made for your friend across the street for the week they were watching your pet. 

If you have separate keys or cards for security gates, a swimming pool area, or workout center, be sure to gather those as well. If you don’t return all the keys that your landlord originally gave you, they will probably charge you for the missing ones. 


Before you move out, it’s important to take care of everything in this article. You don’t want to find yourself in a sticky situation because you forgot about any of these important items. 

So, take your time, and go through this list for moving out. Each of these elements is vital to a smooth move-out process. Check out our tenant renting handbook for other helpful renting tips!

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