Moving Out

Frequently Asked Questions
about Moving Out


When do I have to move out of my unit after my lease has expired?
You are required, as a tenant, to be out of your unit by the end of your lease. You are also required, at least 30 days prior to vacating, to notify your landlord in writing of your intent to vacate. Occasionally, the landlord will allow you to stay a few extra days; but they have the right to require a daily rent fee for each day you are there. They may even have the right to charge you for a full month's rent even if you only stay a few days. Try to move out at the term of the lease to avoid any inconvenience to you, the landlord, or the future tenants. If it is impossible, then get in writing any agreement to allow you to remain in the apartment.

What do I have to do before moving out?
You should clean the apartment or housing unit thoroughly and return your keys. Normally you are not required to repaint, shampoo the carpet, or wash the windows unless you have made them especially dirty. If you do not clean adequately, the landlord may take deductions from your security deposit. In order to have some evidence that your apartment was in good condition when you left, you can download an inventory inspection sheet from this Web site. Have the landlord sign the sheet when you have finished cleaning; therefore, if he/she believes you have not cleaned well enough, it may be communicated at that time. It is also advisable to take pictures that include a date.

Special Situations

What if I breach the terms of the lease or damage the apartment while I'm there?
If you agree not to do things and you do them anyway without written permission from the landlord, then you have breached the lease. When you as the tenant breach the lease agreement, the landlord may ask you to correct the condition or possibly even send you a three-day notice prior to filing an eviction action. In the case of eviction, the landlord may also sue for damages you have caused as a result of the breach. If he/she chooses not to evict you, the landlord still has the right to deduct for damages from your security deposit. If additional charges exceed the amount of the deposit, he/she can sue you for the amount after the unit is vacated.

What if I want to move out before my lease is up?
Although there are a number of reasons a person may want to get out of the lease early, moving out early is a breach of your agreement; and the landlord may be entitled to damages. However, if you feel it is necessary to move, there are several ways you may deal with the situation and reduce your risk:

  • negotiate with the landlord
  • sublease
  • assign your premises

How can I negotiate with the landlord to terminate my lease?
Sometimes it is possible to terminate your lease by negotiating an agreement with your landlord. However, he/she is normally going to fight for the right to full rent until the end of the lease term. Some might agree to let you out in return for your security deposit and others if you have a sublessor. If an agreement is made, make sure you have it in writing, signed by both parties.

Additional information about negotiating with your landlord can be obtained from the Office of Student Life.

What if I find someone else to live in my apartment?
Finding someone else to live in your apartment is another way to avoid the threat of legal action. It is wise however to have the sublessee sign a sublease agreement, sometimes offered by the manager. You can also download a Residential Lease Form. Be sure to get the landlord's written consent first when subleasing.

What if I just move out?
If you just abandon your apartment, you run a serious risk of having a lawsuit against you for rent that the landlord loses as a result of your moving out. It is not wise to think the landlord will never find you or not bring charges against you. Just as you have rights, so do the landlords; and they will exercise those just as you would.

Security Deposits

Normally, a security deposit is required when you rent or lease a place to live. The deposit can be used to pay for any violations or damages the tenant may have been responsible for during the pay period. The deposit may also be used to pay other fees or charges owned by the tenant at the move-out date. Damage that occurred as a result of everyday living in the unit is known as wear and tear and deductions should not be made for this.

How do I get back my security deposit?
The requirements for return of your deposit are outlined in the security deposit section of your lease. These requirements are USUALLY as follows, but you should read your individual lease to be certain of the requirements it imposes on you:
1. Give written notice of intent to vacate at least 30 days prior to the ending date of the lease.
2. Occupy the unit for the entire lease term.
3. Clean the apartment in accordance with the move-out cleaning instructions included in apartment rules.
4. Pay all rent according to the terms of your lease.
5. Give the landlord your forwarding address in writing. This is required in order to have your deposit returned. Be sure to keep a copy of the letter you send with the address in case proof is needed later on. After you have hand delivered your address and received a receipt, make a copy of the receipt for your files. The notice should state what and when you are terminating and give your forwarding address.

How long does it take to get back my security deposit?
Legally, the apartment owners have 30 days from the day all residents move out to return your security deposit along with an itemized list of deductions if there are any. If you have left your forwarding address as required, and have not received it after the allotted time, you may sue for three times the deposit wrongfully withheld plus $100 plus attorney's fees. If you do receive some money but do not agree with the amount deducted, then try negotiating with the landlord for a return of more of your deposit. This can take place by phone or by letter.

You must fulfill all of the lease requirements for your security deposit to be refunded. When you are ready to move out, make an appointment with the manager to inspect the apartment jointly and compare the condition of the unit with the move-in condition inventory form that you completed at the beginning of your lease term. Have the manager sign and date the move-out condition inventory form. Keep a copy for your records. If you feel there may be a discrepancy, you may want to take photographs to prove the condition of the apartment.

What if I am subleasing my apartment?
There are many factors that determine the procedures for return of your security deposit. For more information, contact the Office of Student Life.

NOTE: The tenant should be aware that he/she cannot refuse to pay all or some of the last month's rent under the belief that the security deposit will cover it. State law expressly forbids such action, and the tenant who employs such measures may be liable for three times the amount of rent plus the attorney fees for the landlord.

What may be deducted from your security deposit includes:

  • Any charge specified in the lease which is not prohibited by law or any charge resulting from the tenant's breaching the lease.
  • Charges for damages resulting from negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse. The landlord cannot deduct charges for normal wear and tear.
  • Unpaid rent and other charges listed in your lease such as: late payment charges, missing furniture, missing or burned out light bulbs, unreturned keys, etc.
  • The reasonable cost of cleaning, if you failed to clean properly before leaving. Note: The landlord is not obligated to send you the itemized list of deductions if you:
  • Have not paid all your rent, or;
  • Have not given your forwarding address to him/her in writing.