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A moving out guide for tenants

Moving to a new house can be a stressful time, but what do tenants need to bear in mind as the big day approaches?

Planning to move out of a rental apartment or home is often associated with moving onto bigger and better things, however, there are numerous responsibilities that fall on you as the tenant once you've decided to move out. Not sure what these are? Fear not! We've put together a handy checklist to help moving out of your rental be as smooth and as hassle-free as possible:

1. Check your lease

Once you've decided that you're ready to move out, the first thing to do is review your lease and familiarise yourself with all the associated terms and conditions. Your lease should stipulate terms such as the required notice period as well as details on maintenance fees or utility transfers (if applicable) and so on. Once you have reviewed all the T's and C's, you'll have a better understanding of what is expected before and once you have left the property.

2. Communicate with your landlord

Most leases require tenants to give at least one month's written notice before moving out so be sure to prepare your notice and communicate this to your landlord within the appropriate timeframe. Include in your notice details such as the date you will be moving out, what might be required of you in terms of restoring the property to its original state as well as your request for your deposit. If you are planning on terminating your lease early, you will need to request and receive permission from the landlord prior to moving out otherwise legal action could be taken against you. If your landlord doesn't consent to terminating your lease early, you may need to find someone to sub-let the property for the remainder of your lease, bearing in mind however that you will be directly responsible for collecting their rent and paying the landlord on their behalf. Because of the possible legal implications, it is imperative to communicate fully and timeously with your landlord to prevent any issues from cropping up.

3. Examine the property and fix any damage

As mentioned above, you could be responsible for returning the property to its original condition before moving out, depending on your lease agreement. It's therefore recommended that you inspect the property fully for any damages you may have caused or changes you made during your stay there. It is often advisable to check this against the snag list you may have drawn up at the time of moving in so that you and your landlord are clear as to what your responsibilities are in this regard. Normally, wear and tear over time won't count however things like removing wall hooks and repairing the subsequent holes, replacing a broken window or returning a wall to its original paint colour often fall onto the shoulders of the tenant to attend to before moving out. Failure to do so can result in your landlord retaining your deposit or only paying back a portion once deducting any repair costs.

4. Settle your accounts

Before leaving the property, be sure that all the accounts linked to the property are in good standing and have no outstanding amounts owing i.e. accounts such as electricity, water, Wi-Fi or TV subscriptions, etc. Note that your landlord is legally entitled to use your deposit to pay for any accounts left in arrears. Also be sure to advise all of your service providers that you are moving out and provide them with your new address if you plan on retaining their services in your new home. It is also worthwhile recording or photographing any metre readings (i.e. for electricity or water) when moving out as proof just in case there is a dispute with the new tenants later on.

5. Remove all your belongings and clean before leaving

While this may seem obvious, there is a tendency for some tenants to leave their unwanted belongings behind when moving out, as well as not paying to have the property thoroughly cleaned. This is definitely not advisable as again; it could result in you losing your deposit if the landlord has to remove your belongings or pay for cleaning themselves. Be sure to systematically check every nook and cranny before finally leaving to ensure nothing has been left behind or is in a dirty and unacceptable state.

Although your home may not have been truly yours to begin with, as a tenant it is your responsibility to leave the property in a state that you would be happy to receive it in. It's therefore advisable not to overlook any of these important steps when moving out - not only will they help the move and returning of your deposit run smoother, you can move out knowing that you have honoured both the landlord and yourself in the process.

Private Property South Africa's press office

Private Property South Africa
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