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So you’re moving out of your home or apartment you’re renting with us. All good things come to an end, right?

But moving out isn’t as straightforward as leaving the keys in the door and setting off on your merry way. There’s a process to adhere to and today we’ll run through that so we’re all on the same page.

By “all”, that means you the tenant, the property owner, and us the property managers here at GTL.

At this point we’re assuming you’ve given your notice already. 

You’ve told us two full calendar months in advance you’re moving on and we’ve acknowledged that decision. For more info about giving notice, check out our Tenant Notice To Vacate Requirements blog post to get the full scoop on this.

So you’ve given us your notice and you’re set to leave after two months. Around a month before your scheduled departure date you’ll receive a letter from us, outlining the whole move-out process. Again, this letter keeps everyone on the same page and ensures that you, the tenant, get your security deposit back.

This is worth repeating. The letter’s purpose is to ensure you adhere to the move-out process to get your deposit back. Make no mistake, it’s worth reading and following the steps before you move out and not sticking it to the fridge door and forgetting about it.

This is your security deposit we’re talking about here, so be thorough reading it.

We’ve seen cases before where tenants have not taken their move-out process seriously and have not read their letter, or at least ignored it. We’ll go to the place and see, for example, an uncleaned carpet. The tenant then gets upset or indignant when we point this out in their letter and tell them we’ll hold back money from the deposit to clean the carpet.

It happens. Don’t be that guy. Read your letter, understand the requirements you need to adhere to before leaving, and handle them. It’s common sense!

Line by line, your letter will include a checklist of things to replace or clean before moving out. We mentioned carpets already, but also make sure the walls are clean and/or undamaged. Make sure you replace light bulbs and furnace filters. All that kind of stuff. Bottom line is, just make sure the place is in as good a condition as when you moved in yourself way back when.

Around the same time you receive the letter, you’ll also notice we’ll be putting up a sign outside advertising the property for lease or for sale, whatever the owner wants to do.  

We’ll need access to the property for showings – yep, someone else will move in after you’re gone and they’ll want to check the place out.

To access the property, we’ll either put a lockbox on the door or activate your smart lock, depending on what you have. This shouldn‘t surprise you – it’s in your lease and once you’ve given us notice we need to look ahead and show the property to future possible tenants.

That said, it’s also in your lease agreement we’re obliged to give you reasonable notice before showing the property. We won’t just barge in unannounced on you. But it’s important to know we WILL be in and out showing the property, so make sure you protect your valuables.

Remember, we work in the multiple listings service and it might not always be us showing a potential new tenant the property.   

We all show each other’s properties. This is why we stress over and over to secure your valuables. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee an agent from another broker inside the house won’t forget to lock the door or something like that.

Make sure your valuables are secure and also we recommend you get back to the place ASAP after a showing to check the doors and the lights and that everything is fine.

Know if you’re still living in the property when we’re showing it, there will ALWAYS be an agent with the potential tenant (it’s different with a vacant home but not with an occupied one). You don’t have to worry about anyone coming off the street to look around what is still, until you move out, your home.

And as mentioned, we will always give you reasonable notice that an agent will come by to show the property to a potential new tenant.

The last important point with property showings is this: Your lease states you need to cooperate with showings during your last 60 days living there.

As much as we have to give you reasonable notice and also show the home with an agent, we also require you to cooperate.

Once you’ve decided to move out, the owner of the property is fully within rights to lease it again as soon as possible once you’re gone, and these showings are how they can achieve this, so please don’t make it difficult for us to show the property off.

If you make it difficult, say by denying access to an agent when trying to show the home to a potential tenant, notice your lease states there’s a $50 liquidated damages charge, which we will take off from your deposit.

So please cooperate. Not only to avoid being charged $50 each time you deny us access but also because it’s the right thing to do. And because it’s in the lease you signed. We understand that these showings might not be the most convenient, but we will always give you reasonable notice and there’s no real reason you shouldn’t be able to adhere to that.

The next stage in the move-out process is scheduling your move-out inspection. 

This is where one of our agents – his or her name and contact info will be on the letter you receive – will go through the home room by room with you checking for damage or any issues before you leave.

They will compare the move-in inspection checklist they filled out with you when you first arrived to the move-out checklist you received in your letter and will mark anything that was fine when you moved in, but is now broke or dirty or whatever, for charging later.

The agent will also use this inspection to ensure you’ve turned in your keys to the property and anything else you shouldn’t be taking with you, like the garage door opener or any key fobs.

They’ll check all the lightbulbs work and that you’ve changed the HVAC filter. Really, they’re just looking to see if the place is in good condition and if you’ve carried out the instructions in your letter.

Again – more reasons you need to read your letter and act upon it in good time!

We recommend scheduling your move-out inspection with your agent as soon as possible once you receive your letter. 

That way you have a month to organize a time as close to your leaving date as possible. Leaving it until the last minute to schedule your inspection could lead to issues.

Receiving your letter, scheduling the inspection, and then using the interim time to go through the list of items to attend to is the best way forward.

Remember, you need to schedule the move-out inspection during business hours as close to the date you leave as possible, BEFORE you leave. You cannot schedule the inspection for any date AFTER you move out.

As the agent is moving around the property checking things off, remember they will tally up an estimate amount of any damage to the property to charge you for.     

Obviously the hope is you will have the place in great condition and we won’t charge you for anything, but if that’s not the case, please note that on the inspection day, the amount tallied up by the inspector will be an estimate, as required by law.

It won’t be the exact amount, more of a ballpark figure, although our agents are accurate so the actual amount shouldn’t be too far off.

Once they let you know what the estimate is, you will sign off on it. It’s worth noting here also you have the right not to sign off on your estimate and send in a dispute to us. But in an ideal world, with the comparison between how the place was when you moved in and how it is when you leave, you will know what damage ensued during your tenure and what you’re responsible for. With that knowledge you should have no trouble signing off on our agent’s estimate and not disputing it.

After you’ve signed for any damages, we’ll put together an exact quote to go onto your move-out statement we’ll prepare for you.

Expect to receive your move-out statement, including a complete list of all the items you’re being charged for, within three business days after the inspection. We’ll send it by email to you and also mail it to the forwarding address you’ve given to us (we’ll ask you to provide a forwarding address during your move-out inspection).

You’ll review the statement and any damages we’re charging you for, and you can also dispute any damages by clicking a link online in the email we’ll send. When disputing any charges, remember if an item was fine when you moved in but not when you moved out, you don’t really have a leg to stand on and we’ll charge you. But if you have proof, for example, photos of a damaged item when you moved in, the link will allow you to attach the pictures and we’ll review it.

Anything we deem not damaged by you during your stay, once we review any evidence you send, we’ll take off your list of charges in your move-out statement.

After that we’ll send you your deposit, minus any charges listed on the statement. Expect to receive your check within 30 days after you’ve moved out.

We try to always get checks out before the 30-day deadline although we’re allowed to wait 30 days by law. Sometimes processing the paperwork can take up to 30 days, so we always use this amount as a disclaimer.

Now if you’re on a newer lease, you might have in your agreement the option to expedite the up-to-30-days wait, and have your deposit back within a week. There is a fee for this, but if your lease allows this, just tell the agent during your move-out inspection and they’ll make that happen for you. They’ll just take the fee out of the deposit and return the balance.

For those of you who want your deposit back quicker, this might be worthwhile. Remember that it’s only the newer leases that offer this option, so make sure you check your paperwork to see if it’s possible.

On the flip-side of us sending you your security deposit, there’s also the chance you might owe us money.  

This will happen if the damages listed during your move-out inspection exceed the amount of your deposit.

If this occurs, you will have seven days from the receival of your move-out statement to pay us the damages owed in full or to notify us you want to set up a payment plan.

We will be happy to set up a reasonable plan with you, allowing you to pay back any damages you owe us over the course of a few weeks or months. We can’t let a payment plan stretch over years, but we will work with you to provide the best compromise we can.

To set up a payment plan, you need to contact us within seven days of receiving your move-out statement. Failure to do that will give up any right to pay us back in stages and we will demand payment in full. If you don’t pay in full within those seven days, we’ll pass your debt off to a collection agency.

If that happens, you got a world of trouble on your hands. It will affect your credit rating and you’ll find it hard to rent again, buy a car, get a mortgage, or anything like that going forward.

To avoid any of this, please contact us with seven days of receiving your bill and either pay it or set up a payment plan. We promise to work with you as best we can.

For more details on the entire move-out process, watch the video accompanying this blog where we spell out in more detail what you need to do to ensure a smooth transition from our property to your next place.

And if you have questions at all, please email us at support@gtlrealestate.com and we’ll be happy to answer your query individually.