6 Tenant Responsibilities When Moving out of a Rental

Monday, February 6, 2023

You are moving out of your rental property, the place you have called home for the last twelve months, maybe even longer. The process of moving is overwhelming, finding a new place to live, packing up all your stuff, and worrying about getting your deposit back.

Knowing what to expect when you move out will make the process a lot easier. Criteria for what is inspected will vary from property management company to property management company, but there are a few items that will be straightforward. Laws vary from State to State, so knowing what is chargeable and not chargeable is helpful as well.

 Moving out

After conducting thousands of inspections over the last 30 years, we have seen the same mistakes made over and over again by residents, all in the name of “getting their deposit back.” While it is true you can get your deposit back in full, usually small things are missed that end up adding up quickly. Thus, ensues frustration when you get the letter in the mail with deductions on your security deposit. You spent hours and hours cleaning, painting, only to get less than you expected.

Sometimes the best-laid intentions…

Things you should know when moving out: 

1. Cleaning:

Trust me when I say your idea of clean is different than my idea of clean. That is only natural! We have heard time and time again, “I spent hours cleaning that house from top to bottom. How did you find anything left to be cleaned?”

Common items tenants miss cleaning include:

  1. window sills
  2. the stove hood filters
  3. windows
  4. ceiling fans
  5. lifting up the stove and cleaning around the burners
  6. the window ledges
  7. blinds

When you add up the cost to clean these individual items, it is usually better to charge for a full clean.

Trust me when I say, “don’t spend the time cleaning the home yourself.” If your property management company offers an option for cleaning to be deducted from your deposit, then let them do it. Your time and effort are more valuable than the cost of the cleaning.

Here at Management One, we offer a full cleaning including the carpets for $495-$695 depending on the size of the home. While it would be nice to get the actual money in your hand, you are spending that money by cleaning the home yourself and paying someone to come in and clean the carpets. More than likely, because the cleaning is the last thing that gets done when you are incredibly exhausted, things will get missed: forgetting to clean the window sills, ceiling fans, or underneath the bathroom and kitchen sinks. And who has time to clean windows?

Learn what it takes to clean your rental property from top to bottom.

Download your cleaning checklist today.

2. Painting

Doing the painting yourself is another big no-no. Don’t try and paint the walls, more than likely it will cost you more in the long run. Especially if you paint them the wrong color!

If you have lived in the home for more than two years, more than likely the home will need to be painted, and per California law, it would be the responsibility of the owner. The exception would be if you maliciously damage the walls or painted the walls a different color.

Case in point, we just had a resident move out of a home after living in it for three years. In an attempt to “patch” up the walls, they “painted” the walls with the wrong color paint. This “best-laid intention” ended up costing the resident $1,000 in paint. Had they not painted the walls upon move out, the cost of the painting would have been billed to the landlord since the resident had lived in the home for three years.

Drywall Repair


Related Article: Security Deposit: Security Deposit: How to maximize your security deposit refund.

3. Pictures

Most people want to hang pictures in their homes, and rightfully so. A tip is to hang pictures with Command Strips, the ones with sticky stuff, and Velcro. It makes hanging pictures a snap, literally. When it is time to move and take them down, there are no holes in the wall to be patched! If you did use nails, not all is lost. Use needle-nose pliers to remove the nails from the wall. This will leave small holes that can easily be patched up. Don’t attempt to patch the holes yourself. This often doesn’t turn out well and will cost you more to have someone come back through and clean them up for you.

Drywall Repair


3. Landscaping 

Often the outside of the home is forgotten about during the fray of moving. Check your flower beds and lawns. Make sure everything is cleaned out of debris and weeds. Mow your lawn before turning in the keys. Rake any leaves that might be laying around. Check your sprinklers to make sure all are in working order.

4. Personal Items  

Remove all your personal items from the home before turning in your keys. Anything left behind will be charged against your deposit to remove. Look up! Especially in the kid’s bedrooms, are there any stars left on the ceiling or streamers from the last birthday party? Look behind bedroom and bathroom doors, did a random toy get left behind? Check your linen closet, any random items left behind? Double-check your garage, did you remove all the trash or any last-minute boxes?

5. Trash Cans  

This is the most overlooked item we see. Most people don’t think about what happens with the trash they put in the cans at the last minute. No one wants to move into a home and have full trash cans. So, they must be emptied. Your best option is to make arrangements with your neighbor to put your trash cans out one last time. Any trash left in the cans will be emptied and charged to you for disposal.

Drywall Repair


By following these simple tips, you can save yourself a lot of time and frustration during an already stressful time. Ask your management company if they offer a cleaning checklist or an option to have them clean the property for you. You will be glad you did!

If you are a Management One resident and would like a cleaning checklist or a waiver, just click here!


rental home