I am not a landlord, but my mother is and I live in one of her rentals. My grandmother worked in property management and was a landlord as well. My mother owns three rental homes, I live in one of them. These are ten tips I picked up from them throughout the years and some fairly recently, since I am directly related to my landlord.
- Do not leave anything. If you are leaving something behind, make sure your landlord knows, and provide a written list of items you plan to leave behind for them. Your landlord also needs to tell you its okay for your to leave the items, you should get written confirmation of this as well. They will make their own list of things you actually left behind.The landlord does this to protect themselves from previous renters coming back later and claiming theft. You also need to protect yourself. You can be charged for “abandoning items.”
- Don’t leave packing until the last minute. It might feel like overkill, but start packing things you can live without the minute you give your landlord or roommate notice. Start packing, even if you don’t have anywhere else to go yet. This will make it easier later and you wont stay past your move out date or accidentally leave something behind.
- Know your landlord’s expectations of clean then follow it 120%. They can keep your entire deposit or part of it if they have to clean up after you. I had a roommate that thought “good enough” was wiping surfaces down with a dry paper towel and sweeping in the center of the room. If your landlord asks you to clean something before you leave, just do it, and do it well. It’s not worth losing your deposit. I have given back a partial deposit for needing to clean after someone moved out.
- Take a photos of the room and bathroom (maybe even shared areas) when you move in, and take photos of the room and bathroom when you move out. Pay attention to wear and tear, damage, and stains. This will protect you from a landlord that wants to keep your deposit and will find any reason to do so.
- Keep your areas clean throughout your time living there. It will make cleaning it upon move out easier and it will prevent damage and stains.
- Always tell your landlord about damage to the house, no matter what. It will make it easier on them to fix it. If they don’t fix it, make sure you have written evidence that you told them about the problem.
- Always give written notice and keep a copy of it for your records. I had a roommate tell me they were moving out on the third and then they thought they had until the sixth until I reminded the the day of. I didn’t realize they had forgotten the day they told me and were waiting until the last possible minute that they thought they had, even though someone else was supposed to move into their room the next day.
- Provide your next address in your written notice or as soon as you know it. This is so the landlord can return your deposit to you (which is usually an entire month’s rent). This is also helpful for sending any lingering mail that comes to the house to your new address.
- If your landlord is not giving you receipts for rent, ask them to. You need that for your records in case you have a landlord come after you for not paying rent. It may also come in handy for other forms of documentation if you ever needed to provide documentation for living expenses information.
- I have never done this, but my cousin was asked to replace the drip pans before she left, even though they were new when she moved in and fine when she moved out. Her landlord just had people replace one thing before moving out. This is a possibility to be a aware of.
Some follow up tips and general statements:
When you provide anything in writing, take a picture of it or keep a copy. Always include the date. If a picture is applicable, attach it too. Emails are good for this because you have the chain of communication.
Written can be an email or a letter. This all comes down to landlord preference and what you have access to. You may not have access to your landlord’s email and they may not provide it for you. This is when you would need to go the extra mile to take pictures and copies of your documentation.
I will also add a disclaimer. While it’s good to get into the practice of protecting yourself while you are renting, you may not need to follow every one of these tips to a tee. You may already be the type to be cover your ass by being thorough. Your landlord or the person you sublet from may be super lenient and understanding. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to make sure you don’t get screwed over by a desperate or malicious landlord.