Leaving an apartment? Here’s how to avoid those move-out charges

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Leaving a lease apartment? Here's how to avoid those move-out charges
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If you’re an apartment dweller, you know that in most cases there will eventually come a time when you move out and into a home. Even if a house is not in the cards, another — cheaper — apartment may be. In any event moving out can be fraught with all kinds of charges and expenses.

If you read your lease, you’ll see that the tenant is on the hook for an assortment of things that could make the cost of moving out quite expensive. Add to that the amount you’ll likely pay for a moving van, gas, movers and the tab escalates quickly. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Moving out of an apartment? Here’s how not to get charged

Because so many people rent apartments sight unseen thanks to computers now, walk-throughs are becoming less common. But if you can personally inspect your future dwellings, preferably with management in tow, you can both document defects and other imperfections so that you won’t have to pay for down the line.

4 ways to avoid charges when moving out of an apartment 

Here are some common expenses you can avoid so that when you leave you take your shirt with you!

1. Know what your security deposit covers

Before you were allowed to move into the apartment, you likely paid a security or damage deposit. This (partially) covers the damage incurred from scratching the walls, breaking any windows and generally wrecking the place. Some apartments will charge you anywhere from $300 to a whole month’s rent.

What you should do: If you’ve already signed your lease, review it to see the amount of your security deposit and act accordingly so you can get it back once the lease expires. If you haven’t signed the dotted line, make sure the leasing agent or landlord makes clear what is considered damage vs. wear and tear.

2. Clean the apartment

When the landlord rented the apartment to you, it was likely spick and span. Likewise, they want it returned in reasonably good condition. That means you’re going to have to clean the apartment, unless you want to incur a cleaning fee.

What to do: While a deep professional cleaning is expensive and may not be warranted, you definitely want to make sure the carpet isn’t soiled beyond repair and the kitchen appliances aren’t in such a state that they require wholesale replacing. Take a couple of days and vacuum, sweep and mop the place. Your wallet will thank you.

3. Take photos and video

Whether you get your deposit back will rest in many cases on the condition you leave your apartment in. This is largely dependent on an inspection carried out by the leasing agent or landlord.

What to do: Using your cell phone or another camera, take plenty of pictures of the interior spaces, including rooms you seldom use. This way you have evidence of how you actually left the place in case the apartment managers find fault.

4. Make a checklist of apartment items to return

One major expense that apartment dwellers typically fail to account for is the return of any number of small devices given to them during their rental.

What to do: Make a checklist of things such as door keys, garage door openers or gate openers. When it’s time to move out, make sure you put these in a plastic see-through bag and return them.

Now that you’re all set on how to save money on move-out expenses, check out the $15 insurance policy all apartment renters need.

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer. You can reach Craig at [email protected]
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