Checklist for What to Do at the End of a Rental Lease

by Jerry Shaw
Plan to stay or make new living arrangements at the end of a lease.

When your rental lease is up, you have the option of looking for a new place or continuing the rental agreement with a new lease or on a month-by-month basis. The arrangements also depend on your landlord or management company and whether or not you can stay. Planning ahead of the lease's expiration date allows you time for a new move or deciding to remain in your current home.

Giving Notice

Notify your landlord or property manager as soon as possible if you decide to move or want to stay. The lease agreement usually provides information on the term conditions and when you need to provide notice of vacating. You might have between 15 and 45 days to provide notice, depending on the agreement and landlord-tenant laws in your community. Landlords can terminate your stay when the lease is up, but state laws require a certain amount of notice, such as two months, so you can begin searching for a new place.

Ample Planning Time

A notice far in advance allows you important planning time if you choose to move. Giving proper notice lets management get ready to show your unit to prospective tenants and make preparations to refund any security deposit. You have time to repair any damage or perform clean-up duties to leave your rented home in the same condition you began living in it. This increases your chances of receiving the full amount of your security deposit.

Extended Stay

Failure to provide notice could mean you have to pay at least one month's rent, according to the lease agreement or laws in your area. If you cannot reach a decision or find a new place, your landlord might allow you to rent on a month-by-month basis, which usually costs more than payments you make in a yearly lease. If you have to move because of a new job or other circumstances before the lease is up, some property managers allow you to sublease the unit. The landlord usually must approve the tenant or look for a new renter. Some management companies do not allow subleasing and, in some cases, a kind landlord might let you skip out on a month's rent if the move is necessary.

Renewal Agreement

Before you sign a renewal lease, look over the agreement for any additions to your last agreement or ask your landlord about changes. Although monthly rent often goes up each year, some property managers offer specials when you notify them months earlier. You could save as much as a month's rent if landlords have a difficult time finding tenants in your area, and you happen to be a good tenant.

Clearing Out

If you decide to leave when the lease ends, begin the moving process to avoid chaos as the end date approaches. Start packing what you can and notify businesses, friends and family members of your new address if you have it. Clean the area during the move-out process and repair any damage either yourself or by hiring someone. Most landlords and management companies allow for normal wear and tear. States usually require landlords to return the deposit to you with a list of itemized deductions within two weeks to two months of your move out.

About the Author

Jerry Shaw writes for Spice Marketing and LinkBlaze Marketing. His articles have appeared in Gannett and American Media Inc. publications. He is the author of "The Complete Guide to Trust and Estate Management" from Atlantic Publishing.

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