As the rental term between you and your landlord comes to an end, you’ll no longer be bound by the terms of your lease—and will need to decide your next step. Whether you choose to renew your lease or move to a new home, navigate the end of your rental lease agreement with this guide.
Stay in Your Apartment
If your current apartment still fits your lifestyle and budget, you may decide to stay in your unit after the lease expires. As your lease term approaches, speak with your landlord about your decision. Below are the three main options for staying in your apartment and how to begin the process.
Renew Your Lease
When your lease is up, you may have a chance to renew it. This means you and your landlord will sign a new lease agreement at the end of your current lease term. Landlords will typically reach out to tenants about a lease renewal, but you’ll want to ask for it if you don’t get the paperwork at least 90 days before your lease expires. The lease renewal period is also when you can make changes to your original lease agreement, like adding or removing a roommate, and more. If you opt to renew your lease, make sure to read the new lease agreement carefully. Look out for any rental concessions, increased rent, and new or extra fees before signing a new lease.
Extend Your Lease
Not as long-term as a lease renewal, a lease extension simply extends the time period for which you are responsible for the apartment. Conditions of your current lease—including your rent or the pet policy—will not change. You and your landlord will need to sign an official agreement, which should include a start and end date for the lease extension. Lease extensions are typically beneficial to both the landlord and the tenant, since they maintain terms that both parties have already agreed on.
Switch to a Month-to-Month Lease
If your lease ends in less than a month and neither you nor your landlord have given a 30-day notice, the tenancy may shift to a month-to-month term—also known as an at-will tenancy. In this situation, you or your landlord can terminate the lease by giving a 30-day notice at any time—but only if the notice is given. Under a month-to-month agreement, landlords could raise the rent at any time.
Whether it’s to stay on a budget or to buy your first home, you’ve decided to move out of your apartment once your lease is up. It’s a good idea to keep communication with your landlord open, as you’ll still need to ask questions about the move-out inspection. Before moving out and setting up your new home, here are a few basic arrangements you need to make.
Secure a New Residence
As soon as you’ve decided you’re going to move out, you’ll need to find a new residence to move into. Ideally, you should start apartment hunting at least 90 days before your lease expires so you have enough time to secure a new residence and give appropriate notice at your current apartment before your lease expires. If you’re moving into a new apartment, be sure to ask questions about your new lease term before signing to ensure you understand what you’re agreeing to.
Give Notice to Your Landlord
Giving notice to your landlord is an important step when moving out of your apartment. Write a letter to move out of your apartment and send it to your landlord either by mail or email. These are typically known as 30-day notices, though some leases might call for a 60-day notice to vacate—check your current contract to see how much your landlord requires. This helps give the property manager enough time to list the apartment and schedule any necessary renovations between tenants.
Cancel or Transfer Utilities
One of the top things to update when you move, call your utility company during your last month of residency to let them know your lease is expiring. But if you’re able to use the same utility providers at your new residence, just transfer services to your new address rather than canceling. It’s important to inform them of your move-out date so you don’t end up paying for any gas, water, electricity, or internet used after you move out. You could also arrange for them to shut off utilities the day after your lease ends, so you don’t risk losing power or water while moving out.
Reserve Any Moving or Storage Needs
Once you decide to move out of your apartment, it’s also a good idea to arrange any moving and storage services you’ll need. If the move-in date for your new apartment falls after you move out of your old apartment, you may need to rent a self storage unit to store your furniture and belongings. Otherwise, you could hire movers, reserve a moving truck, or recruit friends to help you move into your new apartment.
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Update Your Address
Once you’ve locked in your new residence, remember to update your address for mailing and billing purposes. Head to the nearest post office or go online to fill out a change of address form two weeks before moving. You’ll also want to update your driver’s license and voter registration after you move into your new residence and can provide proof of your new address.
Get Your Security Deposit Back
While moving out of an apartment, you’ll want to try to get as much of your security deposit back as possible. You can avoid some charges by thoroughly cleaning your apartment, doing a walk-through with your landlord, and taking photos of the condition of your apartment before you turn in your keys.
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