moving out your place

When moving out of a rental property, you’re certainly looking to the future – a new life, in a new place (maybe one to call your own this time), with new friends, and new experiences… You need to get ready for the big change, organize your move, and overcome all kinds of challenges – the last thing on your mind is the rental property you’re leaving (it hardly ever felt like home anyway). And yet, you surely want the move-out to go smoothly, without any conflicts and hassles. To achieve this, you need to comply with all your tenants’ responsibilities when moving out, give your landlord a proper move out notice, and leave the rental in good condition.

The comprehensive tenant move out checklist below will guide you through the entire process and ensure that you don’t overlook anything important when vacating the rental property – so that you can get your security deposit back and part on good terms with your landlord.

Review your lease agreement
Rules and regulations regarding the moving out notice, maintenance obligations, utility transfers, etc. vary depending on whether you have a month-to-month rental agreement or a fixed-term lease. 

Give your landlord a move out notice
Write a tenant move out letter and send it to your landlord at least 60 days prior to your lease termination. Your notice should include a statement of the good condition of the rental property, the specific date of your move, and your new address, as well as a request to have your tenancy deposit returned.

 (make sure you’re out of the property by the time you said you would be).

Inspect the property and fix damage
You’re required to return the property in the same condition as it was when you moved in, so your next step is to inspect the home for any damage you may have caused over your time there – make sure you check the property against the condition report from when you moved in to find out what exactly you’re responsible for.

Normal wear and tear is expected and acceptable, but you’re responsible for repairing holes in the walls you’ve made for hanging pictures and other things, fixing scratches and dents on the walls and floors, repainting the walls to their original color, replacing broken windows, making sure the electrical and plumbing systems are in good condition and all the lighting fixtures, kitchen appliances, and any other home equipment that was in the property when you moved in is functioning properly, etc.

Have any repair works documented and keep the receipts – if you made some permanent improvements to the property, you can request the amount of money you spent on them to be deducted from your last rent.

Pay off your bills
Your landlord has the legal right to use your deposit money for any unpaid charges and bills, so make sure you pay off any due taxes and fees before moving out of the rental – waste management fees, utility bills (for gas, electricity, and water), service fees (for Internet, cable TV, and phone), if they are part of your lease agreement. Take pictures of the apartment on your last day before turning in the keys back to the landlord.

Take all your things out of the rental
Make sure you don’t leave any of your stuff behind. None of them should remain in the rental property though, as your landlord can charge you for having to take out and dispose of your stuff. So, make sure you:

Clean thoroughly
Your lease may provide specific details as to what is expected of you in terms of cleaning the rental unit before moving out (professional carpet cleaning, steam cleaning, etc.) or simply say that you should leave the property clean and tidy. Either way, you should try to leave the home in the same condition that it was when you moved in – or even cleaner, if possible. This will ensure the return of your security deposit and will help you avoid move-out hassles, conflicts, and stress.

A typical tenant move out cleaning checklist includes:


  1. Washing the windows​

  2. Cleaning the curtains (depending on what material they are made from, some curtains require dry cleaning, others can be steam cleaned or machine-washed, etc.);

  3. Steam cleaning mattresses and upholsteries;

  4. Washing the carpets or having them professionally cleaned;

  5. Dusting furniture, ceiling fans, and lighting fixtures;

  6. Wiping doors and door frames, furniture handles and light switches, etc.;

  7. Cleaning kitchen appliances;

  8. Washing and disinfecting sinks, toilets, tubs, shower surrounds, countertops, and other kitchen and bathroom surfaces;

  9. Vacuuming/sweeping and mopping the floors;

  10. Mowing the lawn, trimming the trees and brushes, sweeping the garden paths, removing dead leaves and debris from the gutters, etc. (in case your rental property has a yard);

  11. Cleaning up garages, patios, sheds, balconies, etc. (if applicable);

  12. Emptying and cleaning the bins.


If you plan to do the cleaning yourself, make sure you have all the necessary cleaning supplies and equipment to get the job done. If you intend to use professional cleaning services, budget for the cost and book an affordable and reliable cleaning company as early as possible.

Document the condition of the rental property
Also, make sure you take several photos  or/and videos of the property when all your items are taken out and everything is cleaned – all this evidence will come very handy in case of a conflict with your landlord concerning your security deposit.

Arrange a move out inspection
Every move-out checklist for tenants ends with scheduling a final inspection. So, don’t forget to call your landlord a week or so before leaving the property and ask him/her to conduct a move-out walkthrough of the rental unit to see whether any security deposit deductions are justified. Be present at the move-out inspection, discuss any issues that may arise, try to find mutually beneficial solutions, and request your tenancy deposit back.

Get your security deposit back
When you move out of a rental property, you’re legally entitled to get your tenancy deposit back (unless you have done extensive damage or violated the terms of your lease agreement).
Depending on your state law, the landlord will have two to three weeks after receiving the letter to either return your deposit money or provide a written statement of deductions (for unpaid utility bills, repairing damaged items, cleaning the property, etc.).

Bonus tip: Whether you’re moving out of a rental or your own property, moving house is a difficult and stressful process that requires a lot of careful planning, meticulous organization, and hard work. Make sure you research all your options, plan your move well, find affordable and trustworthy moving partners to work with, book their services as early as possible, pack safely and efficiently, take care of all the necessary moving tasks and preparations, and ensure a smooth and successful relocation. Happy new life in your new home!

Read more:



Examples of Normal Wear and Tear


Paint on the walls of an apartment will fade and get dirty over time. This is a naturally occurring condition which isn’t caused by a tenant.  As part of ordinary maintenance, a landlord should freshen up an apartment with a new coat of paint every time a new tenant occupies the premises.

In addition, carpets fade and tear over time.  Flat, worn or discolored carpet does not mean that the tenant actively damaged the apartment.  Rugs don’t last forever.


Other instances of “normal wear and tear” may include:

  1. Rust in an oven

  2. Grease in a stove hood

  3. Interior doors not properly closing

  4. Toilets leaking

  5. Loose grouting and bathroom tiles

  6. Vinyl flooring worn thin

  7. Worn countertop

  8. Loose hinges or door handles

  9. Rusty shower rod, drain and tub

  10. Dirty or faded lamp or window shades

  11. Pin holes in the wall where picture frames were hung.


If the lease does not define what is considered to be “normal wear and tear,” or what the tenant is expected to do at “move out,” then Florida common law (the rulings of past court cases) will control how a dispute will be resolved.

As a result, most Florida leases will have language detailing what the landlord expects the tenant to do when vacating the premises.  For example, the tenant may be asked to pay for the carpet to be professionally cleaned.


**Read your lease for how “normal wear and tear” may be defined for your apartment, house, or condo.**



Examples of Damage by a Tenant That Is Not Normal Wear and Tear
Damages by a tenant can be anything that harms the landlord’s property.  If the tenant’s grandchildren knock a hole in the clubhouse wall, or break a window, then the tenant is liable for the repair.  If the tenant fails to repair the damage, then the landlord may be able to do so on its own using the tenant’s security deposit.

If the tenant is a hoarder and the landlord has to go to special lengths to clean the premises, then those costs can be deducted from the security deposit.  The costs of cleaning a filthy apartment and removing debris and trash, including conditions caused by house pets, can be deducted from the security deposit.

Another example of damage by the tenant is replacement of carpets and drapery because of the tenant’s excessive smoking.  If the tenant’s smoking has left a permanent odor of stale cigarettes in the curtains and rugs, this can be considered excessive wear and tear.  Meaning, the costs to clean, and even replace, these items can be deducted from the security deposit.


Quick Tip: Upon taking possession of the rental property, and upon vacating the property, it is a good idea to take pictures or video of the property and record the date and time of doing so. That way, you have proof of the condition of the property before taking possession and after you leave.