With so much to do in such a small amount of time, moving out of a rental property can be a stressful affair. The primary factor on most people’s minds is getting their tenancy deposit back, as an unclean or damaged property can result in some pretty hefty deductions. But it certainly doesn’t have to be so daunting! With some foresight and preparation, you can move out smoothly and efficiently without any risk to your deposit money. It’s difficult to know where to start, so in this post we’re going to guide you through the moving out process in the simplest possible terms.
1. Let your landlord know
Since you’re reading this article, it’s safe to assume that you want to move out of your current property and into a new one. As such, your first step is most likely to let your landlord know that you won’t be continuing your tenancy. Have a quick look at your tenancy agreement and it should clarify how to go about doing this properly.
There may be a notice period in which you must alert your landlord about your plans, in which case you need to send them a notice to quit letter before the specified date. However, some landlords and most estate agents will get in touch with tenants toward the end of their tenancy to ask whether or not they would like to continue living at the property and renew their contract. They need to know early if you’re planning on moving out so they have plenty of time in which to organise listings and viewings with an agency.
2. Be a great host
In the run-up to move-out day, be prepared to allow prospective tenants into your property for viewings. Generally, you’ll be given 24 hours notice before any viewings take place, but check your tenancy agreement to be sure. In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, do your best to help and inform viewers while they are looking around. Even things as simple as recommending local bars or making them a cup of tea can go a long way toward making both the landlord and estate agents happy!
3. Cutting through the red tape
Since you’re changing address, it’s best to notify everyone who has you listed under your current address that you’ll be moving house soon. Everyone means everyone, including:
- water, gas, electric and broadband providers
- local council
- doctor and dentist
- your employer
- HMRC and the SLC
Basically, anyone who might send you stuff in the mail and any services that are particular to your current property need to know that you’re moving. Most of this can be done online these days, so don’t worry about being put on hold all day. Let your providers know that you’re moving well in advance so they can supply final bills – if you don’t notify them you could end up paying for bills issued after you leave. Just be sure to keep all relevant documents, and receipts that you collect during this bureaucratic nightmare. You never know when you might need proof of something in the future!
4. Work that elbow grease
Cleaning up your rental is probably the most stressful aspect of moving out, not least because your deposit depends on it. Usually, tenants are contractually obliged to leave the property just as it was when they first arrived, and sometimes a professional clean is stated as a requirement within the tenancy agreement. If the landlord has recommended that you hire professional cleaners, make sure you book them in early enough – opt for mid-week if you can.
If you’re going it alone, you shouldn’t underestimate just how long it takes to clean an entire property, nor how thoroughly you must clean it to guarantee your deposit back! Put aside at least an entire day, put on your favourite cleaning playlist and prepare those elbows for some hardcore scrubbing. Don’t forget to clean inside the appliances, underneath the furniture, along the skirting boards and on top of cabinets.
5. Your inventory is your friend
To avoid excess charges, it’s important to keep tabs on the property’s inventory prior to moving out. If it turns out that anything on the inventory is missing or damaged, your landlord might take a chunk out of your deposit, so be extra vigilant on this point! As you clean and pack up, cross-reference the state of the property with the inventory and condition report you received upon starting the tenancy – make a list of any damages and determine whether they count as reasonable wear and tear. If not, with the permission of your landlord you can hire someone to fix any damages beforehand: it will still cost you, but it’s often a smaller amount of money than that which would be deducted from your deposit.
If you painted any walls during your tenancy, you might be required to repaint in the original colour depending on your landlord’s preferences. In addition, just to be safe, take pictures of everything should you later need to prove that everything was in good order when you moved out.
6. Moving all your stuff
When it comes to moving all your stuff from one property to another, you have two options. The first is hiring a removal firm to do all your packing, driving and heavy lifting for you! While obviously the easiest solution it can certainly get a bit expensive, so look online to compare quotes in your area to find a good price (and again, if you’re hiring services, always try and book them on a weekday for the best value).
Make sure you get this booked well in advance to avoid some stressful phone calls later on, a month in advance is probably best. Of course, the cheaper option is to move out with your own vehicle and perhaps asking a willing friend or family member with a large car if they can spare some time to help you move – just be prepared for a couple of trips if you have a lot of stuff!
7. The dreaded last day
The hours before you move out of your property might be the most stressful of the whole process, but the feeling of finally turning the key in your new property makes it all so worth it. At this point, the property should be clean and its inventory checked, the removers should be booked and on their way, and the bills should all be paid and accounted for. Now you need to pack up all of your belongings and line them up ready to go!
With each room empty it should be easier to find any faults in the property, including bits of dust or grime that you missed before. Remember, everything should look just as it did when you first arrived, i.e. the same condition in which you expect to find your new house. This will not just make your landlord happy and help you keep your deposit, it will also ensure that the next tenants are greeted with a fresh new home.
Right before you hand in your keys and take off, do one last quick sweep of the property. Shut off and unplug all the appliances, lock all the windows and doors, turn off all the lights and take some final meter readings (with photographs) for good measure. Only then should you be able to have a moment of reflection and say your goodbyes.