Moving Out

As a tenant, you should be well informed and carefully prepared to terminate your lease. Below are some items you may want to consider before moving out.

Giving Notice

When planning to move out of your apartment, it is your legal obligation to give the landlord notice of your intent to leave. This should be a written notice. The letter should include your name, the unit you are occupying, and the date you will move. You also should include your future address so your landlord will know where to send your security deposit after you move. If you have a written lease, it often will indicate when you must give this notice (usually one to three months before the month you would like to leave).

Cleaning the Rental Unit

Before you move out, make sure you clean your apartment thoroughly! If you do not clean, you risk losing all or part of your security deposit. The landlord may deduct from your deposit for the cost of a professional cleaning.


Before you turn in your keys, send a letter to your landlord asking her or him to inspect the apartment with you. After the inspection, ask the landlord to sign a note which says that you left the apartment clean and undamaged. If you cannot get them to do this, then you should have a friend inspect your apartment. The friend should take photographs, and sign and date them. This will help you in case you have trouble getting your security deposit back. You should have done a similar inspection when you moved in. If you did, then your final inspections should reflect only what happened (if anything) while you lived there - not any pre-existing defects or repair problems.

Returning Your Keys

Returning your keys may seem like an obvious step in moving out of your apartment, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. The first thing is to be sure that you hand over the keys by the end of the lease; if you don't, the landlord might continue to charge you rent and/or charge you for a lock change. Also, it is best to give your keys over in person, so there is no doubt that your landlord received them.


Many landlords require you to sign a 12-month lease. If you need to vacate the property before the terms of the lease expire, you may want to consider subletting. If you plan to sublet:

  • Be sure the landlord agrees to the arrangement in writing.
  • Protect yourself by getting a lease from the person subletting.
  • Ask for identification and the permanent address of the sublessee.
  • Ask for a security deposit. You will be held responsible for any damages or if the rent is not paid.

Security Deposits

If you paid a security deposit on moving into your property, your landlord is required to return it in whole plus one percent interest for every year they held it. They may, however, deduct from it the cost of any repairs or costs they incurred above the normal wear and tear of the property. They should provide you with an itemized list of any amounts kept from your security deposit. This is why it is so important to make sure you have documented the condition of the property when you move in. You do not want to pay for the previous tenants' damages. If you think your deposit is being unfairly withheld, we strongly recommend consulting with our legal advisers ( see information in Appendix). You can also visit the Attorney General's office for the most current laws and appropriate interest rates for the return of security deposits.