We know that moving out can be stressful— especially considering the cost of moving trucks, a new security deposit, and often, move-out fees. More common in high-rise apartment buildings, move-out fees are non-refundable and can cost you up to $400 just to leave!
Luckily, our experts at AptAmigo have helped thousands of people relocate, and can teach you how to you avoid fees when you move out out.
If you’re already in the middle of your move-out process, check out our ultimate moving checklist.
Are you searching for your dream apartment? Reach out to AptAmigo to find the perfect neighborhood and apartment for you. With expert advice, local insight, and access to the best deals in the market— there’s no better way to apartment hunt.
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How to Avoid Fees When You Move Out
Review Your Lease
Look at your lease to check what is required of you as a tenant during move-out. All expectations and standards for renters are detailed in this document so that you can ensure a smooth and inexpensive move-out. Some apartments require you to hand over your keys on the last day of your lease (for example, returning keys on the last day of August versus the first day of September), while other landlords are more lenient and offer a time frame (such as 3-5 days after your official lease has expired).
Your lease should also note how far in advance you need to give notice that you are vacating. Some apartment complexes assume that, unless you extend your lease, you will be moved out by the lease-end date. But other landlords require a 30 or even 60-day notice, regardless of lease-end date. If you can’t find this info in your lease, reach out to your landlord to confirm expectations.
Generally, when you moved in you either paid a security deposit or a move-in fee. A security deposit is typically given back to you after the keys are returned and the cleanliness stipulations are met. On the other hand, a move-in fee is not refunded once you leave, but it does guarantee that the basic move-out costs are covered.
If you paid a move-in fee, there should be no additional charges upon moving out. While this may seem like the less favorable option, it does guarantee that you will not be charged upon moving out (assuming the unit is in decent shape when you vacate).
Security deposits have a tendency to be more subjective, and tend to rely on your landlord’s interpretation of your unit’s condition. However, your lease should list a compilation of all cleanliness requirements that need to be met upon your departure.
Ask For Move-Out Instructions
It is crucial to keep in mind that specific move-out instructions may not be included in your lease. The best way to avoid being charged is to be as thorough as possible, as soon as possible. We recommend double-checking with management to see if they are looking for anything specific during move-out inspections. Oftentimes, they will offer insight and guidance on the cleaning and repairs necessary!
One of our AptAmigo team members, Laura, noted that “some apartments have tenants fill out a sheet when they move in and when they move out that details any big or small damages they find. This can help protect you from fees associated with damages that were present when you moved in. Even if your apartment require this, it doesn’t hurt to take pictures when you move-in.
Now that you know what to expect, it’s time to get out your cleaning supplies and put on your rubber gloves! It is almost always cheaper to clean the space yourself or hire someone to do it for you. The apartment complex will typically overcharge for basic cleaning services.
For example, our content marketing associate Heather was once charged $40 for the removal of a bag of trash that she accidentally left in the kitchen! So, be thorough— perhaps make your own checklist to confirm that you’ve gotten everything.
Pro tip: get all the nooks and crannies! Check the places you typically wouldn’t clean: behind the toilet, on the tops of cabinets, and around door frames. If you get the apartment ready for the next tenant and the landlord is satisfied, you are more likely to receive your deposit back!
Hanging up shelves and pictures can give your apartment that cozy, personal touch that really makes it feel like home. However, doing so can leave holes and cause damage to the walls. But not to worry, these small damages are easy to repair! Just run to the nearest hardware store and pick up some spackle and paint.
Sometimes, your apartment’s maintenance team will be more than happy to give you a small cup of paint, as they often buy it in bulk and store it for this exact purpose. If this isn’t an option, just take a chip of paint from the wall, and most hardware stores can match the color. Then, all you have to do is fill the holes and paint over the spackle! It’s a simple fix that will save you a lot of deposit money.
If you have a pet, be sure to address any stains, scuffs, or scratches that might have popped up over time. Renting a carpet cleaner will be cheaper than what your landlord will charge to clean the carpet themselves.
Do a Walk-Through
Now that your apartment is looking squeaky clean— check to see if someone from the property management company can do a walk-through with you. Doing this allows you to identify any issues and prevent you from receiving any additional charges. This also demonstrates your intent to leave the apartment in perfect shape.
So even if something small comes up, you’re more likely to get your security deposit back. Being forthright and transparent with what needs to be done will generally go a long way with your property management company.
Take Photos and Videos
Once you feel confident that you your apartment is picture-perfect— be sure to take photos and videos! (As mentioned previously, we recommend taking photos when you move in as well, to make sure you aren’t left on the hook for damages caused by past tenants.)
Taking photos when you leave an apartment is also important, because it ensures that you have evidence of how you left the space. Just in the odd case they try to charge you for damage that occurred after you vacated.
Finalize the Move-Out
Congratulations! You are now almost done moving out of your apartment and are ready to finalize your move-out. Return your keys, check your to-do list, and take one last stroll through the space. Confirm that they know where to send your security deposit, and you’re done!
Now for the fun part: moving into your new apartment! If unpacking seems like a daunting task, we’ve broken down how to unpack in one day.
Looking For Your Dream Apartment?
If you need help finding your next apartment, reach out to AptAmigo. Just let us know your preferences, favorite neighborhood, and any other relevant information, and one of our apartment experts will compile a list of buildings you’ll love. Pick your favorites from the list, and our team will schedule tours (or gather virtual tours) of the apartments you’re interested in, so you don’t have to. As your apartment dream team, we’ll be here for any questions or concerns you might have along the way. The best part? It’s completely free.