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What to consider when moving out of rented accommodation

When you’re counting down the days until you officially become a homeowner, it can be easy to forget that there are people and companies you must tell of your impending move. You will also want to do all you can to make sure that your landlord returns your deposit in full.

This handy guide was created to help you when moving out of rented accommodation.

Inform your landlord in the right way

Telling your landlord that you’re leaving needs to be a priority. Fail to tell them in ample time that you want to end your tenancy and you could find yourself having to pay rent even after you’ve moved out. You are legally required to give an agreed notice period which will be stated in your tenancy agreement.

It’s imperative that you give notice by letter, not over the phone or face to face. You may be able to send it by email, consult your tenancy agreement to check if it is acceptable.

On the letter, you should state the date you want your tenancy to end and that you would like the landlord to check the property on that date and return your deposit. 

The amount of notice you must give depends on whether you have a fixed term tenancy or a periodic tenancy (also known as a rolling tenancy). If you want to move out before your fixed term tenancy is due to expire, you may be able to ‘surrender your tenancy.

This means that both you and your landlord have voluntarily agreed to end your tenancy. Before you start discussions with your landlord, it can be helpful to check your contract and see if there is a break clause. If there is, you should be able to end your tenancy as long as you make sure certain conditions are met.

With a periodic tenancy you will normally need to give one month’s notice if you pay monthly, but again, check your contract. If you pay weekly, it will typically be four weeks’ notice. 

Settle your accounts

You must make sure that you pay any bills before you move out of the property you rent so contact your utility company, TV and broadband companies, local council (for council tax) and any other suppliers now.

You don’t want to risk missing a payment as this could leave a mark on your credit file.

Consider using the Royal Mail redirection service

By the time you’re ready to leave, you’ll have informed everyone you can think of that you’re moving, but there’s still a chance you’ll have missed someone, whether it’s your optician, dentist or a friend you only hear from occasionally.

To make sure no post arrives at your old address, you can sign up for the Royal Mail’s redirection service for a small fee.

If you’re unsure, then you may want to check out our who should you tell about your move guide. If you’re a car owner, you’ll need to notify your car insurer and the DVLA of your new address. Any home contents or pet insurance policies will need transferring too. 

Make sure the property is spick and span

If you want to receive your full deposit back, you should leave the property in the condition you found it. You can clean and tidy it yourself or call in the professionals.

Having a cleaning company do the job for you could save you time and energy. It should hopefully mean that it’s done to a high standard too.

In some instances, your landlord may request the property is professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy, and this will be stated in the tenancy agreement. They may also ask for a receipt as proof of the service. 

Verify your inventory

It’s imperative that you plan to leave your property in the same way that you found it. Find your move-in inventory report and ensure that everything is accounted for.

This is especially important if your accommodation was partly or fully-furnished.

Note if the condition of any items has changed significantly. Your contract should indicate that items are allowed a reasonable amount of wear and tear, this may include scuffs and scratches.

More significant rips, stains or damages should be taken note of.

Get photographic evidence

Before you leave, take several photos of each room and any furnishings if you can.

These can be used later as evidence if needed.

At the start of your tenancy, photos should have been taken and included in the check-in inventory report, so in taking new photos, you’ll be able to confirm that you’re leaving the property in the same condition it was back then. 

Perform final checks

On the day you move out, you should take meter readings for your utility company so that your final bill is accurate. Make sure you don’t leave anything in the property or in the garden that belongs to you. You might want to have a final walk around to double check.

Your TV and broadband companies will probably have instructed you to take your equipment with you and arranged for your services to be resumed at your new home.

The equipment shouldn’t be packed, however, if they belong to your landlord. You mustn’t take anything that doesn’t belong to you, or you might have some of your deposit held back or receive a bill to replace. 

Get your deposit back

If possible, you should also ask your landlord to sign a check-out inventory report, when you hand over your keys. Hopefully, they’ll give you your full deposit but if they try to withhold some, make sure it’s for valid reasons.

They legally can’t penalise you for wear and tear and if they say that they have to pay for a room to be redecorated, make sure they’re not charging you more than it would cost.

Your deposit should have been placed in a tenancy scheme, and if there is a dispute, you can contact your scheme's alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service. They deal with complaints and should be able to resolve any issues fairly. 

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