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Before you return your keys to your landlord, use this checklist to help you prioritize tasks and retrieve your deposit in a quick and timely manner.


The time to move out of your apartment is finally here! Whether you are moving into a home or to another apartment, this can be an exciting time, right? If you are feeling overwhelmed by everything to remember before returning your keys to your leasing company or landlord, this essential checklist will help you to prioritize tasks and to retrieve your deposit! If you have other tips to add to this checklist, please let us know.

Two months in advance

As soon as you think about moving from your apartment, it’s time to visit your leasing company or landlord and ask about move-out guidelines in your lease. Ask for a copy of the lease and review the specifics regarding how much notice you give, who is responsible for cleaning, and other important protocol items. Prepare a list for yourself of what areas of the apartment need repair or fixing before your landlord walks through your apartment for final inspection! For instance, now is the time to repair and patch up walls as well as touching base with the superintendent or landlord for items they will fix, such as plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning, and general maintenance repairs.

One month in advance

Once you’re certain about moving out, write a letter to your leasing company with the exact date of when you’ll be vacating your apartment. If they require a longer timeframe, follow their rules or you may not get your deposit back! Assuming you are just moving locally, start to think about who will be doing the moving—if you will be moving yourself with the help of friends, or if you will be hiring a moving company. Either way you will want to notify your friends or book a moving company for the day(s) you want to move. If you have renter’s insurance, contact your insurance company to advise them where you will be moving and to get the policy transferred effective the day before you move out and into your next place. Start collecting boxes, tape, newspaper, bubble wrap and other essentials to start packing your belongings.

Three weeks before you move out

Now it’s time to start purging and organizing so that you are only packing essential items to use at your next home. Hold a garage sale, give items to charity or your church, or donate to other tenants in your apartment complex. Other tenants may love your old couch! Start preparing for your move by asking for time off at work, look at boarding your pets if you have any, and change your utilities services well in advance. This includes telephone and Internet providers, electricity and gas providers, and water and other household services. If possible, turn on the utilities in your next home in advance of your move. This will ensure you aren’t unpacking in the dark at your new home!

apartment checklist

Two weeks before you move

Call your moving company and follow up on any other essential reservations you made to ensure your move is on the books. Confirm times, dates, and addresses with the movers. Find out what time they will be arriving and ask for an estimate of how long it will take. Ask your landlord if it’s okay for moving trucks to be in the parking lot or street during your move. Many cities require proper notification in advance. If your apartment complex has an elevator, you may need to check with the management company about using it during your move. Finish packing all items except the clothes, toiletries, and food you will need for two weeks. As the day gets closer, try to live out of a suitcase rather than your dresser drawers and closet. Clean out your refrigerator and pantry, and if your move is local, consider using a cooler on the day of the move.

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One week before you move from your apartment

On this last week, start cleaning your apartment and emptying rooms as much as possible. Consider moving all your labeled boxes into one area of the room, away from the walls. This will ensure you can paint, vacuum, patch up any holes, etc., before the move. Ask your landlord when he or she will do the walk-through inspection, and then attend to any issues found during the walk-through. Confirm if you will be getting your deposit back and confirm the address you’d like the check to be mailed to or electronically deposited to. You might take pictures of the apartment to document the condition you’re leaving it in.

Day of moving

On the day of moving, wake up early before the movers. Have a good breakfast; it’s going to be a long day! Take out the trash; fill your cooler with remaining items from refrigerator, and spot clean the refrigerator if your landlord requested it. Carry packaging tape in the car with you for any last-minute opening and reclosing of boxes. (It always happens!) Do a final walk-through of your apartment to ensure everything is gone. Let your landlord know you are vacating the apartment and return the keys. Double-check that he or she has your address and phone number for any follow-up conversations you may have.

Once you’ve completed these steps, welcome to your new home!

About the Author

Ronique Gibson

Ronique Gibson, Associate Architect and a LEED Accredited professional, is the author and creator of a well sought after destination for homeowners -

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