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Inspecting the Apartment Prior to Move In (What to Look For)
Before you decide to rent, you should carefully inspect the apartment with the landlord. Make sure that the apartment has been well-maintained. Ask the landlord to use a written checklist so you both agree on the condition of the apartment before you move in. Look for the following problems:
- Cracks or holes in the floor, walls, or ceiling.
- Signs of leaking water or water damage in the floor, walls, or ceiling.
- Leaks in bathroom or kitchen fixtures.
- Any signs of mold or pests.
- Lack of hot water.
- Inadequate heating or air conditioning.
- Damaged flooring.
Ask for a copy of the checklist after it is complete. Save it for when you move out.
Renters' Insurance - Benefits of Coverage
You should seriously consider purchasing renters' insurance. The landlord's insurance will generally not cover your belongings. Make sure to ask.
Renters' insurance will protect you against loss of your property by fire or theft. It also will protect you against liability if someone claims you injured another person or damaged that person's property. Insurance coverage in California for a two-bedroom apartment can be as little as $15 per month.
Changing Your Address
When you move, it is important to notify the U.S. Post Office of your new address so that your mail can find you. Forms are available at any Post Office. You may also file your change of address online at www.usps.gov .
Turning on Your Utilities
At least one week before you move into your rental unit, contact the local utilities (gas, electricity, water, cable, telephone, sewer, etc.) in order to turn on the utilities in your name. Your landlord should be able to provide you with a list or may be able to do it for you. In many instances, the utility company may charge a deposit.
To end your month-to-month rental agreement, you must give your landlord 30 days' written notice before you move. If you do not intend to renew or extend your lease, you should give 30-days' notice, as well. To avoid misunderstanding, date the notice, state the date you intend to move, and make a copy of the notice for your records.
A landlord may use your security deposit to:
- Clean the apartment when you move, if the apartment is not as clean as when you moved in;
- Repair damages, other than normal wear and tear;
- Cover unpaid rent or balances due.
Your landlord must refund your excess security deposit, and provide you with an accounting of how your security deposit was spent, within 21 calendar days after you move. Make sure to give the landlord a forwarding address.
Early Move Out
If you move out of your apartment before your lease or the 30-day period is over, the landlord is entitled to receive rent from you for the balance of the term. However, if the landlord is able to collect rent from a new resident, you are entitled to a prorated refund of the rent paid. The landlord cannot collect rent twice for the same apartment.
Resident and Owner Responsibilities
While you are not obligated to do so, if you request it, a landlord must perform a walk-through inspection with you two weeks prior to your moving out. This will give you an opportunity to clean or fix problems in the apartment before you move and avoid deductions from your security deposit.