Moving out? Return the property to its previous state beforehand…

Making it to the Home Stretch: What to do Before Handing over the Keys

Once proper notice has been given, a rental or lease agreement can start to be dissolved. Part of this bittersweet end is the less-than-savory but just-as-important final inspections and cleaning on “close” clauses that tenants should be aware of and abide by. It’s important not only to get a “bond” or security deposit back from the landlord but also ensure that there is no extra charge for damages being levied down the road.

What “End of Lease Cleaning” Really Means

The terms of a standard landlord/tenant agreement will often include a clause about the state of condition in which the premises must be to be accepted by the landlord. The specific details in this clause will usually outline a stipulation about a “cleaning” on close, and what that means for the tenant. In some cases (and jurisdictions), the clean will mean “broom clean” condition — i.e. floors and surfaces swept and dusted, free of dirt and debris. In some cases, this could also mean scrubbing or sanitizing. Some agreements outline that when moving out, the cleaning must be done according to the landlord’s satisfaction and that this individual may ask the tenant to repeat it if not satisfactory. It definitely outlines that any physical damages such as holes in walls for picture frames or more significant cosmetic changes must either be covered by the tenant before moving out (in the case that the landlord must call for professional help to fix) or that the tenant risks forging their security deposit over and above any costly compensation.

The Final Inspection Before Moving Out

When tenancy ends and the moving out process begins, there is a final inspection date that the landlord can propose and conduct. It can be either while the tenant is in the apartment — which means that the landlord is inspecting the space with the tenant present — or else it can be at a time when the tenant is not home. Landlords should give tenants a copy of the checklist that will be used during the final inspection so that tenants know beforehand what areas and items to watch out for (and possibly spruce up in the bargain). Each country, state and province has its own laws regarding the specifics of tenancy agreements. For example, some states and provinces have a rental office hold the deposit, rather than the landlord personally. Yet all agree that, if there was a security or damage deposit that was taken in upon signing, this amount should be returned when the tenant is moving out. However, the return of this money is contingent on a successful final inspection, where all items on the checklist meet the landlord’s expectations. Normally, if the security deposit was the amount of one month’s rent, then the tenant simply does not have to pay for the last month of rent.