Suddenly you are presented with a great job opportunity that requires you to relocate to a different city or state, or maybe your family has expanded and needs larger living quarters. Regardless of your reasons for moving, living in an apartment with a lease contract requires you to give early notice to avoid penalties and legal fees. Planning ahead and allocating enough time to finalise your move prior to vacating your apartment will help avoid unnecessary stress and unexpected moving costs.
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Things you need
- Copy of your lease
Determine what type of lease or notice you have. A fixed-term lease, or "tenancy for years" lease, requires that tenants reside in the apartment for a specific amount of time before vacating. Most apartments that are fixed-term require that tenants submit a termination letter at least 30 days before their move date, but some require as many as 60-days notice. Some leases automatically renew, so check the terms and conditions listed on your lease contract to avoid unnecessary charges or fees.
Write a lease termination letter to your landlord or management company stating the date you plan to move out of your apartment. Mail the termination letter to your landlord's office and send it certified so that you have a postal receipt. Alternatively, you can give to them in person.
Call or meet with your landlord in person to arrange a walk-through of the apartment prior to your move date. Review your contract to find out what repairs or damages are not covered under your lease. Have your landlord check for potential damage or repairs before you move out to avoid surprise fees down the road.
Determine with your landlord how and when you should expect to receive your security deposit. As an alternative, ask your landlord if you can use your security deposit to pay the last month's rent. Using your security deposit up front bypasses wait time resulting from a mailed check.
Resolve any penalty or break lease fees if you are terminating your apartment contract early. Some leases contain an "early-out" or "early-release" clause, which states under what conditions you can break your lease and the amount you owe the landlord. Keep in mind that your security deposit may also be forfeited, depending on state tenant laws.
Tips and warnings
- As a courtesy, offer to show your apartment to potential tenants. If you are breaking your lease early, volunteer to find and screen new tenants. This is especially helpful in promoting goodwill and avoiding additional fees from your landlord.
- Clean your apartment thoroughly before vacating and make sure that all furniture, trash and other living items are removed. You may need to use your old landlord as a reference when applying to future apartments, so make sure that the apartment is in good condition before you leave.
- Though you are no longer responsible for future rent payments beyond the end date of your lease, you are liable for any unpaid rent up to the date of termination. If you neglect to pay past due rent, the landlord can take legal action against you, even after you vacate the apartment.
- Do not stay in the apartment past your apartment contract's termination date. Though tenant laws vary by state, many states allow landlords to start eviction proceedings or obtain court orders to remove tenants from the property.
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