Move Out Procedures – Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do to make sure I get my security deposit back?
Provide a proper Written 60-day move-out notice with signatures.
Leave the unit clean – windows, floors, baseboards, ceiling fan blades, etc.
Be sure to submit your forwarding address
Submit paid final copies of all utility bill.We love it when we can return 100% of a resident’s security deposit.
What is “Proper Notice?”
Proper notice means you provide a written letter (not email) with a signature stating:
- The date you intend to surrender the property. Surrender means turning in all keys and other access devices (garage door remotes)
- The names of the tenants on your lease
- The address of the property
A proper 60 day notice is a notice that coincides with the expiration date of your lease agreement. If there is no date of when you will surrender the property then we do not have proper notice. Moving out or turning your keys in early does not release you from your obligations under the lease agreement including; yard care, utilities and paying the rent until the end of your lease agreement.
What if I want to leave before my lease is up?
Most leases require you to pay for the full term of the lease even if you leave early. Please read your lease for the exceptions. The specific requirements of the exceptions may change as the laws change, but the exceptions are generally:
- If you receive military change of station orders, in which case there are specific obligations. You must present the change orders to your landlord or landlord’s representative and you must provide notice before the next rent is due. If you provide the proper documentation you can leave thirty days after the start of the next rental period and you will have 100% of your security deposit available for refund with no penalty for leaving early.
- You have a domestic violence situation. You must provide proper documentation in the form of a restraining order issued by a judge.
If you do not qualify under these exceptions then expect to pay the full term of your lease and all other obligations including utilities, lawn care, re-letting fees, other maintenance expenses or any other obligations in your lease. All outstanding balances are reported to collections and you may be liable for all expenses related to collecting any past due debts.
Why wouldn’t someone get all of their deposit returned?
The lease requires you to do more then just pay your rent, so if the landlord has to pay to have someone do something you were required to do, then you must reimburse the landlord. The landlord cannot charge you for expenses related to “normal wear and tear”. Normal wear and tear is measured against 1) how long should a thing normally last and 2) what was the intended use. Example:, a privacy fence is intended to provide privacy, it is not intended to be a chew toy for a dog. Even if it is “normal” for your dog to chew a fence, you would be charged to repair any damage caused by the dog because the fence was used for something other than it’s intended use. Also, as a tenant you are responsible for anything caused by negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse. This responsibility is yours even if you did not cause the damage. Please remember there is a difference between fault and responsibility. If you rent a car and some stranger dings the door in a parking lot, the damage was not your fault but you are responsible for the cost to repair even if you were not around when the stranger dinged the door. The most common deductions are for:
- Lawn care: Please read your lease. You are responsible for more then cutting the lawn and edging. You must treat with fertilizer, you must treat with weed killer, you must maintain flower beds in a weed free manner and maintain an adequete level of mulch. If the yard is not properly maintained then any expense the landlord incurs to fix this negligence may be charged back to the tenant. The lawn should look better then when you moved in, if you do what is required in the lease a better looking, more mature lawn is the result.
- Cleaning: Your lease requires you to keep the house clean and to leave it clean. If it is not left clean then the landlord will hire someone to finish the cleaning and the expense will be assessed back to your account. Unless you had extraordinary circumstances the carpets were cleaned prior to your move in. The carpet was either done by the previous tenants or done by the landlord and the expense charged back to the previous tenant. Liberty Management can refer you to cleaning firms for your house and carpets which have had great success in removing even those most stubborn stains.
- Touch up paint: This can be the most painful. If a tenant touches up and uses the wrong type or color of paint the cost to repair can be more then if just left alone. If you are not 100% confident in your ability to provide a proper touch up job, then you should hire the work done by a professional who will guarantee their work or let the landlord hire their own painter and let the expense be paid from your account. Anything more than a couple of small nail holes per wall is not considered normal use or normal wear and tear. Children drawing on walls may be normal in your family but it is not considered normal use of a wall. Grease on walls, handprints on walls or painting odd colors on walls are not considered normal use and may require special (expensive) treatment to repair. Damage to the walls from moving your furnishings in or out of the house is not considered normal wear and tear. On the other side of this, a landlord has an expectation of periodic painting, so if you live at a home for five years, and paint but no repair is required when you leave the landlord must depreciate the expense and can only assess their tenant a smaller amount of the expense they incur.
- Missing garage door remotes, mismatching lightbulbs or missing smoke detector batteries. These costs can be larger then you might think. If a garage door remote is missing then the landlord has to pay someone to deliver and program a new remote. A $30.00 remote ends up costing $90.00 by the time you reimburse the landlord for the service call by a garage door company.
Remember your obligations are to reimburse the landlord for the damages they suffer and damages are generally any bills the landlord pays to make things right.
Does the landlord have an incentive to keep my deposit?
The landlord has no incentive to “keep” your deposit. It is generally illegal for a landlord to keep your deposit if you leave with rent paid in full, you have provided proper notice at the end of your lease, and you have provided a forwarding address. The landlord can only use your deposit to cover expenses due to property damage. If you are assesed a fee to replace a garage door remote the landlord doesn’t get to keep anything, he is only being reimbursed from the money he paid the service company for the replacement.
How are damages determined?
A physical survey is completed after you leave the property and an average of 250 photographs are taken to complete the records. The survey results are compared with the condition of the property when you moved in as noted in the move-in condition form you completed when you took possession of the house. Any landlord make ready expenses are reviewed to determine if they qualify for reimbursement.
How do I schedule the move out survey?
We will conduct a final move-out inspection after all furnishings have been removed and all CLEANING accomplished and the keys are turned in to Management, to document the condition that you leave the property. We will send out a photographer to do move-out pictures. He/She will not be able to tell you what charges will or will not be charged against your security deposit. The property manager will compare the move-in pictures with the move-out pictures and with your move-in check list and the reports from the maintenance personnel after you move-out to determine if will be are any charges against your security deposit. We do not do move out inspections with tenants present at the property. Remember the photographer will only take move-out pictures. He/She will not be able to tell you what charges will or will not be charged against you security deposit. They are only there to document the condition of the property.
When do I get my deposit returned?
According to the terms of your lease, the Landlord has 30 days to return your security deposit. Security deposits will be mailed to the forwarding address left with the office within 30 days after the move-out inspection. Refunds cannot be picked up at the office. If tenant’s are splitting deposit a letter has to be written to Management detailing split signed by all tenants.
What if there is an error on the accounting and I was charged for something I should not have been charged for?
Unfortunately errors can occur. In spite of every effort to be correct 100% all of the time we have had errors. If you find an error in your deposit accounting please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org You will receive a confirmation email back within two days telling you we have received your issue and that we will research and resolve ASAP. It normally takes 10-15 work days to complete the review and we may need to ask you additional questions while we do our research. When you send in your issue please include all relevant information including good phone numbers to contact you!
Please list the item where you feel there was an error, then list the reason why you should not have been assessed an expense. Please remember that mistakes can happen. An example is when a cleaning for a house number 3110 was incorrectly entered into our system as 3001. You may have lived in 3001 and left it immaculate, only to find a cleaning bill charged against your account. If you simply ask us to review our photo’s and notes then we will be able to find the error and send you your additional reimbursement ASAP. Or if you paid a professional cleaner to clean the house at your departure send a copy of the receipt.
Can you please provide me with more detailed instructions on how to get as much of my deposit back as possible?
Please read your lease for a complete list of everything you may be responsible.