The information below will help you through the process of moving out of your unit, including giving notice to your landlord, doing a final walkthrough, and getting your security deposit back. If you are being evicted by your landlord, be sure to visit our webpage on Eviction.
If you are ending, or terminating, a rental agreement, you must give your landlord proper written notice before the moving date. Your letter to the landlord should include the following elements:
Last Month's Rent:
Your security deposit (even if it is called 'last month's rent') is not intended to replace your last month's rent payment. Be sure to pay your last month's rent.
- Your full name
- Address of the property, including apartment or unit number
- The date you intend to move. You must plan to vacate the premises, including removing all of your belongings, no later than this date. Remember to check your rental agreement to see how many days notice you must give. Many rental agreements require 30, 60, or even 90 days notice. For month-to-month agreements, you must give 30 days notice.
- How you intend to give your landlord the key. Some landlords want you to give it to them in person; others may accept it by mail or hidden in a prearranged location outside the unit.
Keep a copy of your letter and mail it via certified mail in order to get a receipt of delivery. This will be important if there is any dispute later.
Many landlords will want to do a final walkthrough of the unit with you to make sure that everything is clean and functioning. Even if your landlord does not want to do a walkthrough with you, you should do one yourself, using the Unit Condition Checklist that you filled out when you moved in. Here are some tips to help you:
- Make sure to thorughly clean the entire unit, including all rooms, cabinets, drawers, and closets.
- Some 'wear and tear' is expected, but you can avoid disputes by performing some deep cleaning on your own:
- Carpet: If you have any stains or dirty areas of the carpet, consider buying a carpet cleaning product to remove the stains.
- Wood flooring: A good wood cleaner helps to make the floor look shiny and new. In fact, you can make your own by combining one part white vinegar and one part olive oil (for sealed wood only!).
- Kitchen: Use baking soda to clean the fridge, sink, and stove. It can used to scrub away grit and remove odors.
- Bathroom: Baking soda can be used to scrub the sink, tub, and countertops. Use white vinegar to remove soap scum and water spots.
- If you made any damage to the unit, consider getting it repaired before you move out. It may be cheaper for you to fix it yourself (or hire someone to fix it) than to have the landlord take part of your security deposit.
- Remove all trash from inside the unit.
- Turn off all lights, heater/air, and other appliances (except refrigerator).
- Make sure all doors and windows are closed and locked. If there is an alarm, be sure to arm it.
- Return all keys to the landlord. Make sure to check with the landlord to find out the best way to return the keys (drop off in person, by mail, with a neighbor, etc.).
If your unit is in good condition and you have complied with the terms of your rental agreement, your landlord should return your security deposit to you within 21 days of your moving out. For more information on security deposits, and what to do if your landlord does not return yours, visit our Deposits webpage.
THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO PROVIDES INFORMATION REGARDING HOUSING IN THE SAN FRANCISCO AREA FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE ONLY. THE UNIVERSITY MAKES NO REPRESENTATION AS TO THE CONDITION OR SUITABILITY OF ANY OF THE LISTED RESOURCES OR ESTABLISHMENTS, NOR DOES IT ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR CONDITION OR RELIABILITY, OR FOR ANY AGREEMENTS YOU ENTER INTO WITH THEM. THIS WEBSITE IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE, AND IT SHOULD NOT BE USED AS SUCH.