Before Moving In
Before moving into your new residence, conduct an inspection to make sure it is safe and in good condition. If possible, ask your landlord to inspect the apartment with you so an agreement can be made about any necessary repairs. Noting the condition of the apartment before you move in is an important step for when you move out so that you are not held accountable for damages that may have existed before you moved in. Consider taking pictures of the residence or follow our rental inspection checklist as a guide to follow. These precautions might be helpful if you run into any problems getting your security deposit back when you move out.
If your town has laws requiring a certificate of occupancy (C.O.), make sure the residence has received a C.O. from the town housing inspector.
When Moving Out
Before moving out make sure you notify your landlord in writing that you intend to move out. Check your lease for any requirements regarding the amount of notice you need to provide. For example, many leases require 30 days notice before the lease term ends. So if your lease ends on May 31 and your lease requires 30 days notice, you will need to notify your landlord before May 1 of your intent to move out at the end of your lease period. This is necessary even if your lease is already written to end on May 31 since it could automatically go into a month-to-month lease if no notice is given. Check your lease for specific information and dates.
When moving out, inspect your apartment and make note of its condition and any damages. The apartment should be left in “broom clean” condition, meaning the residence should not require major cleaning after you have moved out all your belongings. Landlords cannot charge cleaning fees or painting fees unless the rental unit needs major repairs or cleaning after you have left. To avoid any dispute on the condition of the apartment, ask the landlord to inspect the apartment when you move out and sign a note indicating you left the apartment clean and undamaged. If your landlord is unable to conduct an inspection with you, take pictures of your residence. This could help in getting your full security deposit back. If there are damages, ask the landlord to detail the damages and cost to repair so you know how much of your security deposit will be returned.
In New Jersey, a landlord has 30 days after you have moved out to return your security deposit plus any interest earned. Remember to leave your landlord a forwarding address so your deposit can be returned to you after you have moved out.