Over the years I’ve had herds of tenants move in and move out for my rental properties; some have been a joy to work with right until I kicked them off my porch and waved them off into the unset, while the others, well, I couldn’t wait to see the back of their repugnant hairy asses.
Most notably, one of the most problematic periods of a tenancy is move out day; it’s the one day when a perfectly healthy tenant and landlord relationship can quickly and effortlessly be reduced to shit. Sadly, move out day is actually a common time for dispute, especially if tenants aren’t organised. Needless to say, the tenancy deposit is often the bone of contention during this time. Tenants expect every penny back, while landlords want to be compensated for every scuff and graze. It’s a recipe for disaster.
With that said, I’ve listed my top tips for tenants, to help make the process of moving out as organised as possible. I can confidently say that the problems I have faced as landlord over the years with my tenants – during the moving out period – could have been easily avoided, or at least minimised, if the below was checked by each and every tenant when moving out.
I know, I know, such a silly little tip, but probably the most valuable, and the one which tenants love to completely ignore. So it needs to be said. Over and over again!
Prepare for your exist well in advance, so you have plenty of time to arrange any potential repairs and maintenance issues, removal companies, cleaning services etc.
Confirm the move out date
Make sure you have confirmed a move out date with your agent/landlord, and make sure you have written confirmation! Generally speaking, you can move out before the confirmed date, but you won’t be able to overstay unless you have permission to do so.
Confirm the inspection date
You should confirm the final inspection date (most people will do this at the same time as when confirming the move out day, and it’s usually scheduled for the same day) with your landlord/agent, and then reconfirm a few days before.
You should have the property cleaned and emptied before the inspection takes place. It’s always best to have the property emptied well in advance of inspection date, because until then, it can be difficult to thoroughly clean the property or identify and address any potential matters of disrepair.
If you were given an inventory report during check-in (most good landlords and letting agents will conduct a inventory report on move in day with your presence), have it at hand; look through it carefully to remind yourself of what the condition of the property and all provided appliances were in when you moved in.
Condition of property / Cleaning
The golden rule: tenants are required to return the property and items/appliances in the same condition they received it in, minus damages caused by wear and tear. Your inventory will assist with this task.
Repairs & Maintenance
Don’t worry if there are any damages, it’s perfectly normal.
However, in order to resolve any matters of disrepair, here are my tips:
Utilities, Subscriptions & Services
Contact all your utility suppliers and subscription based services that you’ll be vacating the property.
Utilities can include water, electricity, gas, telephone and broadband, media services and TV licence.
On the day you move out, don’t forget to take necessary meter readings so you can provide them to your suppliers in order to close your account and pay off any outstanding balances. I recommend taking photos of the meters to avoid any conflicting readings.
Subscriptions can include magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
Services can include window cleaning, contents insurance.
Contact your local authority and inform them of your moving date and where you’ll be moving to.
Change of details
Inform anyone that holds personal details for you and provide them with your new address:
If you have a lot of personal items to move, especially heavy furniture, it might be best to arrange a removal company to assist.
As said, a lot of damage is often caused while boxing and moving items out of the property, so a good way to limit the damage is by using a professional removal company. You can quickly get several quotes with in minutes by using Realymoving.com’s quote form.
Cancel Standing Orders / Direct Debit
If you pay rent to your agent or landlord by Standing Order or Direct Debit, don’t forget to cancel it! You can usually do it via online banking. Alternatively, contact your bank.
Lockup and Return Keys
You will need to return all the keys to the property, including any copies you may have made, during check-out.
By move out day, you should have removed all your personal belongings and returned the property in the condition you received it in. At this point, the landlord or agent should do a final inspection with your presence.
Assuming there is no dispute, your deposit should be returned to you with in 10 days of you both agreeing to how much you’ll get back. If there is a dispute, then your deposit will be held and protected in the deposit scheme until the issue is resolved.
FAQ – Moving out of your Rental Property!
How do I end my tenancy agreement so I can move out?
First and foremost, check for the following clauses in your tenancy agreement:
- The fixed end date
- Break clauses (in case you wish to terminate your tenancy early)
Generally (and in most cases), you will need to provide your agent/landlord with at least 1 months written notice. Here’s a more detailed guide on how tenants can end a tenancy.
You can also contact your agent/landlord directly for clarity if you’re unsure (of course, I appreciate that this isn’t always possible, depending on circumstances and/or the sensitivity of the matter).
Can I move out early from my rental property?
While you are contracted to remain a tenant as per the end-date in your tenancy agreement, you might still have an opportunity to end your tenancy early and move out:
- Check for any break clauses in your tenancy agreement
- Contact your agent/landlord to inform them you wish to end the tenancy early, and explain why (i.e. you may have a special case, like needing to relocate for work). Your landlord might be willing to play ball depending on your reason.
Personally, from a landlord’s perspective, I’m always willing to allow my tenants’ to vacate early if they wish to. I don’t see the point or logic in ‘caging’ tenants. Of course, I can’t speak for all landlords.
Bear in mind, your landlord may charge you for any marketing costs and expenses to find replacement tenants.
- If your landlord is in breach of contract (e.g. if the property remains in disrepair for an unreasonable amount of time), you might have the right to terminate the tenancy early.
My landlord threw away my belongings after I moved out, can s/he do that?
Well, honestly, you should have taken your crap with you when you moved out. It’s so annoying for landlords when tenants leave their personal possessions behind *mutters*
However, maybe you made an agreement with your landlord. If that’s the case, I can’t comment, because I don’t know what the agreement was, or how binding it is.
In any case, the law stipulates that landlords are required to make reasonable efforts to contact the tenant in order for them to return their possessions. Until then, landlords are under a legal obligation to take care of the tenant’s possessions.
A few points to bear in mind:
- Your landlord might be able to withhold your deposit until all your personal belongings are vacated from the property
- Your landlord might be able to charge you for storage costs
For more information, here’s a more detailed guide on tenants that leave their belongings behind (the guide is written for landlords, but tenants can backward engineer the details for their perspective).
My landlord won’t return my deposit, what can I do?
Your landlord is legally obligated to secure the deposit into a Government approved tenancy deposit scheme, so disputes can be managed by the scheme’s impartial and independent resolution adjudicator.
If you’re not in agreement about the deposit, you should contact the deposit scheme and open a case. Your landlord is legally obligated to provide you with all the necessary details on how to do that at the beginning of the tenancy.
The property wasn’t clean when I moved in, do I still need to clean it?
In theory, you’re meant to return the property in the condition you received it in, and that’s why you should use your inventory report to assist.
However, in practise, regardless of the cleanliness when you moved in, I always recommend doing the following when moving out:
- Remove all your possessions from the property
- Dispose of all rubbish
- Ensure the property is thoroughly clean
- Take detailed pictures after
Generally speaking, if your inventory report isn’t particularly detailed, it will cause more problems for your landlord than for you, because the burden of proof will be on them if they want compensation for any cleaning costs. But to make life easier, I would just ensure the property is properly cleaned. It’s really not a tall order (unless you’re an insufferable messy pig).
My agent/landlord never conducted an inventory when I moved in, so what should I do?
Same answer as above.
My landlord is trying to charge me for Wear & Tear damage, can he?
Landlords aren’t allowed to charge tenants to repair fair wear & tear, so refuse to be penalised.
Examples of wear & tear:
- Natural wear on carpets (this does NOT include burns or stains)
- Small scuffs on walls
- Faded paint on walls, door frames and skirting boards
The reality is, a deposit scheme won’t reward a landlord compensation for wear and tear, so I wouldn’t be overly concerned.
Here’s a full guide on Wear & Tear.
Do you have any tips to share? Do you have a question? Comment below…
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.