13-Step Guide to Moving Out of a Rental Unit
[Information provided courtesy of New Mexico Legal Aid] [Click to the right for a PDF version or see below for the pamphlet version provided by New Mexico Legal Aid]
Using this Guide: As you get ready to move out, read this pamphlet and put a checkmark next to the actions you have done.
Doing all the actions in this pamphlet in the order they are listed will help you avoid problems as you move out of you current rental unit.
_____1.) Give proper notice- Proper notice means telling the landlord of your desire to end your current lease according to the process stated in your lease or at least one rental period in before the desired termination date. Failure to give proper notice may result in the loss of your damage deposit and may leave you responsible for the next month’s rent. Make sure you provide your notice to the landlord in writing and keep a copy for your records.
_____2.) Get contact information- It is best to get the names, and contact information of neighbors. If you have to go to court they can testify to the character of the landlord, and the condition of the apartment.
_____3.) Create a move out plan - What vehicle will you use to move your belongings (your vehicle, a friend’s vehicle, a rented vehicle)? If people are coming to help you move, what day and at what time will they be there? Where will you move your things to? How long will it take you to pack up and move all your things?
_____4.) Create a move out box –place all important papers, such as financial records, medical records, utility bills, social security information, and birth certificate, in one place- like a box. Be sure not to lose or damage this box. It is also helpful to pack a suitcase with items you know you will need like clothing, hygiene products, baby products, and etc.
_____5.) Remove personal items from the apartment- This includes all belongings, garbage, rubbish and food. Make sure to check all the areas of your house including areas often overlooked such as the refrigerator, cabinets, behind the stove, and closets.
_____6.) Clean the apartment- Vacuum or sweep all the floors of the apartment; wipe down any blinds in the apartment; clean any fixtures or appliances that came with the apartment; clean all sinks, bathtubs, mirrors, countertops, and cabinets.
You should try and clean the apartment as well as possible before moving out- make it sparkle even if it did not look like way when you moved in.
The landlord is not supposed to charge you for repairs needed as a result of normal wear and tear.
If you visit http://www.lawhelpnewmexico.org click on the “Housing” section and then click the “Moving Out” tab you can find a general (though not complete) list of repairs a landlord can and cannot charge you for.
If you had pets in the apartment make sure you thoroughly clean the carpets. If there is any smell, pet hair, or pet stains you may be held responsible for the replacement or cleaning of the carpets.
_____7.) Take pictures of the floors/carpets, inside and outside walls, all appliances provided by the landlord, ceilings, and light-fixtures (the more pictures you take the better). Include a time stamp on the picture and if possible have a newspaper from the day you take the pictures with the newspaper’s date visible in the photo.
_____8.) Schedule a walk-through- set up a time when you and the landlord can inspect the rental unit after you have cleaned, but before you give your key to the landlord. If possible have a friend or family member with you during the walk-through so they can testify to the condition of the rental unit in court if necessary. You should fill out a checklist signed by both you and the landlord that talks about the condition of the apartment. You can find a checklist you may wish to use on the “Moving Out” tab of the “Housing” section on the Law Help New Mexico website.
_____9.) Give your landlord a forwarding address- Notify the landlord in writing of the address where you will be moving so you continue to receive your mail and any papers sent by your landlord such as your initial deposit.
_____10.) Give the post office a change of address request- Provide the post office the address of your new house or a temporary address where you would like to have your mail sent. You may do this in person at the local post office or online. A link to changing your address online may be found on the US post office website or the “Moving Out” tab of the “Housing” section on the Law Help New Mexico website.
_____11.) Transfer your utilities if you are responsible for paying utilities- Call your utilities providers and tell them of your change of address. If you are moving to a place where you are responsible for utilities, have them transferred to this new address. If you will not be responsible for utilities inform your utility provider
_____12.) Remove your name from the lease if you are living with a roommate or subletting- Have the landlord provide you a signed and dated release from your rental agreement. The landlord should also sign a new lease contract with the current tenant.
_____13.) Personally hand the key to the landlord- This is the final step in moving out. Once the landlord has the key, your lease is officially terminated. Remember, you have not officially moved out until the landlord has the key. Failing to personally give the landlord the key may result in the landlord not receiving the key and complicate or delay the move out process.
This information is intended to aid in the process of moving out of a rental housing unit. This information is not meant to provide legal advice. If you have a legal issue you may wish to seek the aid of an attorney or your local New Mexico Legal Aid office.
New Mexico Legal Aid, 301 Gold SW, Albuquerque, NM 87125 Telephone: 505-243-7871
Toll-free number: 866-416-1922
Law Access New Mexico, 1-800-340-9771 (statewide); 998-4529 (Albuquerque)
Law Help New Mexico lawhelpnewmexico.org