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Although it is normally not necessary in a typical tenancy for years, some leases require tenants to give advance notice of their intent to move out at the end of the lease. If your lease provides for this, or if you have a periodic tenancy, notice of intent to vacate must be given to properly terminate the lease. Failure to give proper notice could result in owing additional rent.
Some leases require notices to be in writing, and for the tenant's protection, it is a good idea always to give written notice, retaining a copy for your files.
Cleaning and Repairing Damage
The tenant must leave the rental unit in as good a condition as it was when he entered into the lease, except for ordinary wear and tear. Some leases may even specify that the unit must be clean in all respects, ordinary wear and tear excepted. If that is the case in your lease, you will not be excused from cleaning the rental unit even though it may not have been clean when you entered into the lease. To avoid cleaning charges, you must leave the unit clean.
"Ordinary wear and tear" is usually defined as that deterioration that occurs to a building or furniture and appliances by virtue of age and ordinary use, but does not excuse damage caused by neglect or abuse.
A tenant's checkout sheet should be identical to the check-in sheet filled out at the beginning of the tenancy, except for ordinary wear and tear or where the lease specifies that the apartment shall be clean in all respects even though it wasn't clean at the beginning of the tenancy.
All furnishings should be in their proper place and no damage should appear on the checkout sheet that was not already there when the tenant moved in.
Just as with the check-in sheet, it is desirable to have the landlord go through the apartment with you and both of you sign the completed list. But if the landlord refuses to do this, go ahead and complete the checkout sheet, mailing it to your landlord and retaining a copy for your files.
For your added protection, you might wish to invite a disinterested witness to go through the apartment with you and witness the checkout sheet. If a dispute over a deposit refund should later arise, this additional witness could prove valuable.
Saving Your Records
Until all matters regarding the lease are resolved, the tenant should retain a copy of her lease, receipts, canceled checks, notices, correspondence, and the check-in and checkout sheets. If a tenant has a roommate who pays rent separately, the roommate should also retain her receipts and canceled checks.
Security and Damage Deposits
Remember that if you are not satisfied with the amount of the deposit or deposits refunded to you and wish to take the landlord to court, do not cash the refund check. This implies that you accept the amount in full settlement, and you waive your right to dispute the landlord's figures.