Moving out of a rented room in PA. What do I need to do?
March 9, 2014 10:55 PM   Subscribe

I am moving out of a room in a single-family home in Pittsburgh. What do I need to do to make the move-out as smooth as possible, and get back as much of my deposit as possible?

This was my first time renting, ever. I'm just wondering what I should do to make my move-out as smooth as possible, given my situation. I share a house with two other roommates--students who will continue to live there after I move out at the beginning of May. These are my questions:

1.) I've read a lot of advice reading that tenants moving out should leave the place broom-clean. But what about my case, where there will still be people living in the house? Should I only concentrate on cleaning my room?

2.) I didn't know to take pictures/do a walk-through of the place when I moved in. There is an outlet in my room whose plastic plate covering is loose--as in, sometimes the plate lifts off the wall a little when you pull a plug out. It was like this when I got here. But I have no proof of this fact. And since there is still a little time before I move out, the best thing to do would be to alert my landlord and ask him to fix it, yes? This is the only thing I could see him dinging me for; there's no carpet in the house and I haven't really been here long enough to cause much damage.

3.) I am moving back home down South. I have two large pieces of furniture, a mattress/box spring and a chest of drawers, that I don't care to bring with me. I asked my landlord if I could leave them. He said yes. I know I need to get his agreement in writing. But to be on the safe side, should I just have Salvation Army come and pick these things up anyway? I wanted to avoid having to buy an inflatable bed to use in between the time SA does pick-ups and the day I move out. But I'd like to get as much of my security deposit back as possible, so I'm really trying to be more careful about moving out than I was about moving in.

4.) I see my landlord on a fairly regular basis. He comes and hangs out at the house for a couple of hours on the weekend when his son is attending weekend classes in the neighborhood. Should I hand him my official move-out notice and have him sign it, or should I mail it to him via certified mail?

5.) Any other tips or recommendations for moving out?

My apologies for this neurotic post. My landlord is a nice guy, so on the one hand I think I'm worrying over nothing. But on the other hand, I'm scared of what might happen to my deposit, because I was naive enough to be charmed by the landlord's wife, who was the person I actually first spoke with about moving in. She was very friendly, personable, talked about connecting me with some of her colleagues for job networking since I moved here without one in hand, and mentioned taking me and my roommates (one of them is a family friend of hers) out every now and then, etc. Once she gave me the keys, I never saw her again. Which has been fine, since all house-related issues have been dealt with reasonably and promptly by her husband. But even so, after being so clueless about both my landlady and the move-in process, I don't want to take any more risks.
posted by dean_deen to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1) Do you spend much time in the rest of the house? I'd say just for civility's sake, you should make a little more effort than usual to help clean up the kitchen and the bathroom, say, that sort of thing. But that's "being a decent person" territory, not "losing your deposit" territory.

2) That's literally probably just a one screw kind of fix, don't worry about it.

3) The landlord may have an easier time finding someone for a single room if he can advertise it as furnished, so if he says it's okay to leave them, go ahead and leave them. An ex of mine chose his first apartment because when he moved in it came with a sofa, owing to how the previous tenant had not been able to figure out how to get it back out again. Furniture has value, and if he decides he doesn't want it, he can call Salvation Army just as easy as you can.

4) I'd go ahead and do it in person if he's there. Save postage.

5) It's totally normal to be this nervous about the first time. My first apartment move-out, the place even gave us a lengthy list of all the things they would potentially charge for, like new drip pans for the stove, and a clean-up checklist including things like underneath the fridge, and I was kind of freaked out by it, and I got back every penny. If your landlord's been generally okay in the past, operate under the assumption that this will continue, but just try to be as courteous about all of it as you can.
posted by Sequence at 1:43 AM on March 10, 2014

Talk to your landlord and be like "hey, can. I get my deposit back before I move?", since you have a casual relationship. From there you will find out if you get dinged for anything.

Don't make this more complicated than it has to be.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:44 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have your very own lease, or do you share a lease with your roommates?
posted by jon1270 at 1:45 AM on March 10, 2014

Hello! I am a landlord in Pittsburgh. It sounds like you are doing everything right. Here's some thoughts:

- Don't worry about the plate cover. You don't need to ask them to fix it. They'll fix it when they go through your room afterwards.

- Does your landlord use email? I would email him and be clear about the day you are moving out. I would indicate a time that you would want to do a walk-through to make sure everything was left satisfactorily. If he doesn't respond to the email, call him. If he doesn't answer the phone after a few tries, then I would send a letter certified mail. Mention "as per our agreement, I will be leaving behind X and Y furniture".

- In the same conversation where you say you're moving, ask if there's anything specific that you need to do in order to get your full deposit back. That way there's less of a chance of a surprise down the line.

- I would definitely make sure that your stuff is cleaned out of the fridge and common areas. It'd be nice to tidy up there or do some light cleaning.

- It's very charming that you're so concerned about doing everything right. I believe landlords can only hold on to your deposit for X # of days after you move out, so I'd look into that. If you need the deposit money badly, let him know that you're in a cash bind so it lets him know to hurry. I wouldn't be pushy about getting it back on moving day, though, because as a landlord it would be a bit suspicious and I'd think that there was damage somewhere that I just hadn't found yet.

Good luck!
posted by amicamentis at 3:04 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you really need your deposit as quickly as possible, call the landlord and ask, "I'm moving back home and I'd like to give notice that I'll be leaving on X date. I've really enjoyed living here and I want to do right by you. So what do I need to do to get back my entire deposit? One thing that would help me out is if we could do a walk through on X date, and if you could write me a check for my deposit return at that time. Is that possible?"

He doesn't have to, that would be a courtesy, but you never know, he might, and you don't get what you don't ask for.

I'd mention the electrical plate to him, if the whole electrical box is loose, he should know.

Now, once you've arranged for everything with the landlord, send him an email, return receipt, to firm it all up.

Dear Landlord,

It was great talking to you yesterday, I just wanted to firm everything up. I will be moving out on X date. I will be leaving the mattress and box spring, the next tenant can have it, or if you prefer, please put it out on trash day. We agreed that I will have the room ready for the walk through on X date, and that you can refund my deposit, by check on that same date, provided the room is in the same condition as when I rented it.

I've really enjoyed living here. Thank you very much.


That's it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:30 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the advice, everybody! I didn't even know that asking for my deposit back in person was even an option.

Also, jon1270, I have my own lease.
posted by dean_deen at 9:19 PM on March 10, 2014

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