You’ve given the property management notice that you’ll be leaving (or you’ve been served notice by them), and you now have 30 days to vacate your home. The clock is ticking, and your questions are coming just as fast.
What do you need to do? When should you start looking? Should you have started looking already? How long do apartments stay on the market?
This crunch-time can be a bit unsettling, but don’t panic. Regardless of whether your 30 days has already begun, or you’re about to give notice and start the clock, here are the things you absolutely need to know to make this transition as smooth and hassle-free as possible.
Figure Out Your Contract
Different property managers have different rules when it comes to vacating your property, so take a look at your renter’s agreement and make sure you know exactly where you stand.
Does your contract have the option to extend month-to-month if you can’t find the right place? Does the price automatically increase if you don’t sign a contract? If you were given notice to vacate by your landlord, did they follow the correct procedure? If you’re giving notice, are you required to do so in writing, and by what method?
These are all questions you should be able to answer. Inform yourself and know your rights.
Start Searching 60 Days in Advance
You really need to begin making decisions 60 days in advance. Since many units go on the market around 30 days before they’re available, you’ll miss out on some gems if you haven’t made the critical decisions ahead of time — like what neighborhood you prefer to live in, how close you need to be to transportation, what your friends think about the area, etc. You don’t want to find yourself taking a less-than-ideal apartment just to keep yourself from ending up in the street.
If your 30 days have already begun, don’t despair — but don’t wait another day. Get in action mode, get out there, and make the most of the time you do have left!
Start Packing Pronto
Packing really should begin 30 days in advance, just to make it as easy possible on you. Outside of death and divorce, moving is one of the most stressful life events you’ll encounter, and the more time you give yourself to handle the craziness, the better.
Start selling or donating the furniture and other items you don’t want to haul with you. Keep your newspapers for wrapping delicate items. Gather boxes from friends, family and local businesses — supermarkets, drug stores, and other businesses often have a wealth of boxes awaiting the trash, and they’re more than happy to have you take them off their hands.
When you pack, move through your home methodically, tackling one room at a time. Organize your boxes by room, and label each box clearly (especially the fragile ones!). It takes a little more time upfront, but it will making unpacking so much easier.
Create a Renter Resume
Finding your next home isn’t as easy as showing up, saying “I’ll take it!,” and moving in. It’s actually more like an interview, and you wouldn’t go into an interview without any preparation whatsoever, would you? (Of course not!)
Landlords want to make sure they’re renting to responsible people, so they’ll want some background on you. How long have you been at your current job? How long do you plan to stay in this new apartment? Have you ever gotten evicted or broken a lease?
Get ready to pounce when that ideal apartment comes your way by figuring out what would your renter profile looks like. Gather everything a prospective landlord might ask for, from your recent pay stubs (or tax returns), to a list of your addresses and employers over the past two years. Make sure you have all your information ready so you can land the next open spot. You don’t want your dream place to go to someone else because you didn’t have your stuff together.
Secure Your Security Deposit
Remember that money you gave your current landlord when you moved in? That sum can be money in your pocket (for things like your next security deposit) if you take some time to make sure you’re leaving your apartment in the same condition you entered it in.
A little wear and tear will happen, especially if you’ve lived in a place for a few years, so take inventory room-by-room to see what you can fix up: holes in the wall from hanging pictures, scuffs on the baseboards, etc.
If you painted, return the walls to their original color. If you “left your mark” on the stairwell when you were moving that mattress upstairs, get the master paint color from the property and start patching. Don’t overlook the little details, because your landlord probably won’t.
Have Money in Your Checking Account
Speaking of security deposits …
Your current (soon-to-be-former) landlord won’t give you back your deposit until after you move-out. But you’ll need to tender a new deposit to your future landlord in order to secure your next spot.
Do you see the dilemma? You’ll face a span of 7 – 30 days (depending on the laws in your state) in which you’ll have two outstanding security deposits floating around.
You’ll need enough cash in your bank account to be able to come up with the deposit for the next place. And depending on the norms in your area, you may additionally need to tender the first months’ rent in advance.
Shuffle some money between your accounts, and make sure your checking account is topped up. You’ll be needing it.
Prepare to Cancel Your Services
Utilities, insurance, your cable subscription … Make a list of all the monthly services you subscribe to at your residence, and begin gathering contact information for each company. (Don’t forget to make note of your account number, which can be found on any of your old bills.)
You’ll need to cancel, change service address, or hold service for all of these things. Save yourself the scramble later and get all this information together now, so that when you find a place, all you have to do is read down the list and make some calls.
Moving is always a hectic time, but by doing some simple preparation ahead of time and making sure you’re on top of things, you can greatly decrease the craziness.