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Moving Out of a Rental Property: A Tenant Checklist

Categories: Moving TipsReal Estate

It can be an exciting time to move into a new home. You might also find yourself leaving your current place because your circumstances have changed in unanticipated ways.

Whatever the case might be in your circumstances, your goal should be simple: get as much money back from your security deposit as possible.

Some landlords or building managers might provide you with a specific checklist to follow. If you don’t receive that paperwork, this one can give you a general idea of what your lease expects to see after you’ve moved out.

Since renting is a business relationship, the goal is for you to return the apartment, condo, or home to an equal or better state than when you arrived.

25% of Renters Don’t Get Their Security Deposit Back at All

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Most renters can get some of their money back with some basic cleaning and light maintenance. If you replace the light bulbs, repair broken receptacle covers, and have a professional cleaner address your floors and counters, your security deposit should be returned at or near in-full status.

That’s why you’ll want to review the items on this checklist. It will help you see if everything is working as it should be, is clean, and doesn’t have noticeable damage.

As a final step, you might need to reverse the changes you made to your home while living there. If you painted the walls a color that wasn’t permitted, it must revert to the original hue. You’ll be charged for that repair if it doesn’t happen.

Tenant Checklist for Moving Out

This checklist covers your home’s major components: floors, walls, windows, doors, kitchen, bathroom, and some miscellaneous chores.

Kitchen Checklist for Moving Out

  • Repair any appliances that you might have damaged while living in your home.
  • Remove clogs from the drains.
  • Wipe the inside and outside of your cabinets, shelves, and pantries with a degreasing agent before applying a standard cleaner.
  • Thoroughly clean the oven and microwave, including the drip pans.
  • Wipe inside the refrigerator and clean inside, outside, and behind it.
  • Clean out the dishwasher, including the inside of the door.
  • Run saltwater and cold water through your garbage disposal to clean it.
  • Remove the dust, dirt, and grease from the exhaust fan, overhead lights, and other fixtures.

Bathroom Checklist for Moving Out

  • Clean all bathroom surfaces to get rid of any mildew or mold that could be in the environment.
  • Sanitize the shower, sink, bathtub, and toilet.
  • Inspect the internal mechanisms of the toilet to ensure it is working correctly.
  • Wipe down the inside of all drawers and cabinets.
  • Clean the shelves, mirrors, and vanity.
  • Wash all of the tiles and scrub the grout.
  • Clean and sanitize the exhaust fan.

Doors and Windows Checklist for Moving OutBathroom Checklist for Moving Out

  • Clean the inside and outside surfaces of the windows, including the tracks.
  • Clean the window blinds or dry clean the draperies.
  • Fix any broken windows, blinds, or screens that weren’t pre-existing conditions.
  • Mend burn marks, holes, or tears in curtains or draperies.
  • Make sure that the door functions as it should and the locks work correctly.
  • Wipe down the doors, frames, and knobs with a cleaning agent.

Moving Out Checklist Items for Walls

  • Wash down all of the walls, paying close attention to the areas near vents and heaters.
  • Remove cobwebs from the ceiling and wall corners.
  • Remove all nails and screws and patch the holes left behind.
  • Remove hooks from the walls and ceiling and patch the holes.
  • Repaint wall sections that received damage and required extensive patching.
  • Clean the ceiling fan blades.
  • Wipe down all of the switch plates, receptacle covers, baseboards, and trim.
  • Restore any areas that you might have altered outside of the lease’s requirements.

Moving Out Checklist for Your Floors

  • Vacuum all of the carpeting. Hire a professional cleaner (some states require this step).
  • Mop all of the hardwood and tile floors with an appropriate cleaning agent.
  • Remove any pet stains or odors that are found on the floor.
  • Repair broken tiles and floorboards.
  • Fix the holes, tears, stains, or burn marks in the carpet.

Miscellaneous Items to Review When Moving Out

  • Test your carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors to ensure they are working. Replace batteries when needed.
  • Replace burnt out or missing light bulbs.
  • Clean all of the light fixtures.
  • Remove all belongings from closets, doors, cabinets, and storage areas.
  • Remove all outdoor belongings on balconies, decks, patios, etc.
  • Clean any outdoor surfaces associated with your lease.
  • Remove the leftover trash.

Please remember that following this checklist to the letter is not a guarantee that you’ll get your security deposit back entirely. It should help you to retain at least a portion of it.

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