Preparing to Move Out of a Rental Home

If the time comes for you to vacate a rental home, prepare to do it the right way.
Consult your lease agreement first to see what your landlord expects. Then follow the steps below
to make sure you return your rental to the condition as close as possible to the way you found it originally.

Giving notice

Check your lease to see how your landlord would like you to give notice. It is often a requirement to put your
intentions in writing, as well as speak to your landlord in person or on the phone. On your written notice, be
sure to include the date you’ll be leaving and a forwarding address. You’ll need to arrange to return keys to your
landlord at the appropriate time.

Cleaning up your space

Though it may feel overwhelming — especially if you’re doing it on your own — cleaning your rental home can
best be done systematically, one step at a time.

The kitchen:

o The oven – Depending on how often you cleaned it, if at all, this can be the hardest of your
move-out chores. Use oven cleaner, following directions carefully. Use surface cleaner on
the stove, paying special attention to burners.
o The refrigerator – Wash bins with hot, soapy water. Use vinegar or a surface cleaner on shelves and doors.
o Shelves and pantry – Remove all food and wash or remove shelf paper.
o Floor – Sweep and mop.

The bathroom:

o Wash tile and tub with an appropriate cleaner or a combination of baking soda and vinegar.
o Wipe counters and cabinets with a surface cleaner. Scrub sink with scouring powder or baking soda and vinegar.
o Clean toilet bowl with an appropriate cleanser, and brush and wipe down the outside surfaces.
o Sweep and mop floor.

All rooms:

o Remove all nails, tacks and hooks from walls and doors. Spackle any holes.
o Remove stains from carpet with spot-cleaner or a rented steam cleaner.
Vacuum all floors, and mop tile or linoleum.
o Clear closets, cupboards and drawers, and wipe down surfaces.
o Wipe blinds or shades.
o Wipe down ceiling fans.

Hiring a cleaning service

When you’ve taken a look at the list above, you may decide it’s worth it to hire a cleaning service.
The cost for professional help likely will not exceed what you would get back in a deposit. It may be
worth the money to end your stay on glowing terms with your landlord — without having to lift a finger!
(You may need a referral, after all.)

Shutting off utilities

Set a cut-off date for the utilities so that you don’t end up paying for the next resident’s power or cable.
You might want to set the shut-off for the day after your move, just in case.
Preparing to move out of a rental house can be daunting. Follow the steps above and you’ll soon be
on your way to your next home, knowing you’ve left everything behind in good order. Keep in mind that
doing this successfully should help you get most, if not all, of your security deposit back.
The effort is definitely worthwhile!

Take Steps to Safeguard Your Rental Property from Theft

We could all stand to feel a little safer when leaving our homes each day for work or play, right?
Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure your rental home isn’t a prime
target for thieves. How many of these tips do you have in place?

Lock up

As silly as it sounds, many crimes are those of opportunity: if a door or window is left unlocked, a
thief who’s passing by will grab anything available. Depending on where you live, you might be in the
habit of leaving a backdoor unlocked while you go in and out of the yard. Or maybe you forget to relock
the front door after carrying groceries in.
Make it a habit to at least twist the thumb lock every time you come into the house, and you’re less likely to
leave it open to crooks. Plus, an unlocked side or back door can easily be forgotten when you leave the house or go to bed.
Survey the locks on your door and windows. You should have at least a deadbolt on every exterior door, in
addition to the thumb lock. Also be sure that all of your windows have secure locks. If not, you might ask your
landlord to install additional locks, where necessary.

Put it away

The more stuff you allow to collect around your house, the greater the invitation for robbers to come up
to see what you’ve got. The more enticement they have to get close to your house, the greater the likelihood
they’ll find a way inside, in addition to taking anything resalable they see outside.
Keep all lawn tools, bicycles and gardening materials stowed away in a locked shed or garage. Similarly, keep
all valuables stowed away inside your house. Computers, pads, cameras and other electronics left in plain sight
can easily inspire a thief to break in and grab them.
It’s a good idea to avoid traditional hiding places for jewelry and money like the freezer or in between mattresses.
Find a unique place for your irreplaceables — one that would take a crook more time to find than he or she is willing to spend.
‘Nothing to see here, folks’ is the best approach to keep your house low-profile for criminals.

Look lived-in

You’ve heard it before: the more newspapers that pile up in front of your home, the more it looks like no one
is ever there. The same is true for an unkempt yard, dark rooms and a generally neglected air. If you come home
from work late or are going out of town, get a timer for your lights, so that a few come on while you’re away. Also
consider leaving a television or radio on while you’re out.
And of course, have someone pick up your newspapers and get your mail while you’re out of town.

Install a security system

If your rental home has a security system, consider getting an active account immediately. If your home isn’t
currently wired for an alarm system, talk to your landlord about the possibility of having one installed. The benefits
for the property owner live on after you leave, enticing security-conscious prospective residents who are looking for
an alarm system as desirable amenity.

There are a number of simple, low-cost ways to make your house unappealing to thieves. Take a stroll around
your rental home now, pretending you’re a prowler, and see what security lapses you can take care of right away!

Rental Home for the Holidays: How to Prep Your Place for the Season

Once the candle on the last jack-o-lantern goes out, it’s officially The Holiday Season. Are you ready?

We have tips for how to prep your rental home for guests and make your home a favorite spot
for family and friends to gather over the holiday season.

Cold-weather cleaning

Spring isn’t the only time to give your place a thorough scrub. Before you play host or hostess for
holiday gatherings, you’ll want your home to shine as brightly as the season’s lights. Wash windows to
let in as much sunshine as possible, mop floors, and dust your home from top to bottom. If necessary,
this is also a good time to steam-clean carpets, making floors a welcoming spot to play games and exchange gifts.
Don’t forget to make your kitchen shine, too, in preparation for all those wonderful holiday treats and meals.

Preparing for guests

It’s never too early to get your guest accommodations in order. In the guest room, get everything ready for
out-of-town visitors. Collect extra pillows and blankets, freshen bedding, clear space in the closet and have
fresh towels at the ready. A suitcase stand, either purchased or made by you out of decoratively stacked, vintage
suitcases, is a welcoming touch. Place high-quality toiletries in a decorative basket for your guests to enjoy.

Holiday decor

Whether you create it yourself or purchase holiday home decor from your favorite catalog or home store,
creating a holiday mood with garlands, greenery and other items will make visitors to your home feel welcome.
Holiday plants and pine boughs can be found at your local home improvement shop or florist. If you have vintage
ornaments that are wearing out or that have lost their hook holders, place them in a decorative bowl or glass candle
holder to let them sparkle. Candles (battery-powered are safest) and small lights add a warm festive glow throughout your home.

Opening your home for the holidays makes the season even warmer. Begin preparing your place now so that it
will feel truly welcoming for your seasonal guests!

Moving with a Pet into Your Rental Home

Moving is a chore all by itself, but making sure your pet fares well in the adventure
requires extra planning. Read on for what to consider when choosing a rental — and how to make
the move as smooth as possible for your furry family member!

The pet-friendly rental

Finding a rental that takes pets is your first step in securing happy housing for you and your dog or cat.
You’ll want your new landlord to welcome you both with open arms, so be upfront with the fact that you
have a pet. You can go one further by having a pet resume at the ready. This is a document that includes
vaccination and spayed or neutered information (with supporting documents), references from past landlords,
neighbors, your veterinarian, obedience trainers and any other positive information that will make your pet shine.

Look for housing, ideally, with a fenced yard, in a neighborhood, which offers plenty of walking options and
perhaps a dog park. If you worry about your dog or cat roaming loose, consider renting a house on a street
that’s removed from a heavily trafficked road.

Planning the move

Depending on how far you have to go and how you’re getting there, you may be using a pet carrier to transport
your animal. If so, start getting your pet used to the carrier as soon as possible, making it readily available with
a favorite toy or blanket inside. Once your pet sees the carrier as a safe haven, traveling in it on the big day
won’t seem as traumatic.

If traveling by plane, check pet travel policies on your airline of choice to see what restrictions they have and
to find out what paperwork and evidence of vaccinations you must provide — before making reservations.

Talk to your vet about whether your pet may need a sedative for more comfortable travel.

Also, consider getting your dog or cat groomed just before the trip so that nails are trimmed for the event.

Moving day

The day of the move is usually stressful for everyone involved, and your pet can pick up on all the expectant
energy in the air. Be sure to keep your routine as normal as possible, while keeping your voice and body
language as calm as you can. Plenty of affection and praise will assure your pet that nothing bad is happening.

Moving days also offer the opportunity for anxious pets to bolt out an open door. Choose a room in the home
you’re leaving and make it your pet’s base while everything is moved out. Make sure to keep the door closed
(warn friends and family members to do the same) and to supply your pet with food, water, a favorite toy
, and the crate, if you’re using one.

Depending on the size and duration of your move, you might want to board your dog at a kennel during
the tumult, and pick her up in time to get in the car or plane, en route to your new rental home.

When you arrive

Getting used to a new home can be as unsettling to a pet as leaving the old one. Keep your pet in his
crate or in a closed room until everything is moved in, and you can begin to create order. As with your exit
strategy, supply your pet with everything she will need upon arrival—familiar food/water bowls and favorite toys.
Now your pet can begin the process of exploring this new territory comfortably.

As you plan your move, begin making arrangements for your pet, too. Thoughtful preparation will make
the experience easier on the two of you and help ensure a happy move into your new home!

Cheap Green Cleaning: The Only 5 Products You Need

Baking soda is super cheap and can be used in all sorts of ways around your apartment.

When it comes to spring cleaning, the only way to do it right is to go green.

Not only are non-toxic cleaning products better for your health, there’s another bonus: This is one of those times when going green also saves you money! Not only are the following five ingredients good for your health and your home’s cleanliness, but they also cost way less to keep on hand than commercial cleaners.

Ready to start scrubbing? Read on to learn about the only five weapons you’ll need in your cleaning arsenal:

1. Baking soda

This simple white powder is as versatile as it is cheap – a 16-oz. a box costs only about a dollar, and you can use it in all sorts of ways around the home. For example:

• On your carpet: If your pet or kid had an accident on the rug, just sprinkle baking soda
over the area and let it absorb the moisture. Vacuum the carpet when it’s dry. If a spot remains, gently brush
a baking soda and water mixture into the carpet, let it dry, then vacuum.
• On your walls: Remove marks from walls by wiping with a damp sponge dipped in baking soda.
• On your stainless steel appliances: Sprinkle baking soda onto a damp
sponge and wipe down your appliances. Then rinse the sponge and wipe again to get rid of the residue.

2. Vinegar

When it comes to green cleaning, vinegar is your go-to wonder product. Here are just a few ways you can use vinegar to clean:

• For your windows: Mix vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle. For extra shine
with no streaks – plus cut down on waste — wipe with a microfiber cloth instead of paper towels.
• For your floors: Mix one cup vinegar, one cup hot water, and a couple of drops of dish soap
in a spray bottle. Just spray it on the floor – hardwood, tile, linoleum or any other non-carpeted
surface will do – and mop. No rinsing needed!
• For your sink drains: If you have a clogged drain, remove the stopper and pour half a cup
of baking soda into it, followed by a cup of vinegar. Let it bubble away for about half an hour, then flush
the drain with boiling water.
A gallon of vinegar will cost you less than $10.

3. Castile soap

When you’re cleaning hard surfaces, sometimes you need some suds. Paired with some water and a stiff-bristled brush, castile soap will be your best friend for bathroom cleaning.

• In your tub: Combine water and castile soap in a 2:1 ratio in a spray bottle. Spray liberally in
your tub, then scrub with the brush to get rid of mildew and soap scum. Rinse with warm water.
• In your sink: Spray the same mixture all over the surface of your sink, then scrub with the brush
until the sink shines.
A 16-oz. bottle of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap costs about $10.
4. Hydrogen peroxide
A brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide is a green alternative to bleach – it has all the whitening
power without harming the environment. And, at less than a buck for a 16-oz. bottle, it’s ultra-cheap as well.
• In your toilet: Pour about half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into your toilet bowl and let it sit for about 20
minutes, then scrub clean with a brush.
• On your grout: If you’ve got moldy or discolored grout, first dry the surface thoroughly, then spray with
hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit for about half an hour and then scrub with an old toothbrush. Depending on
how much mildew you have, you might have to repeat the process several times to get white grout again.
• In your kitchen: Because it’s non-toxic, you can use hydrogen peroxide to clean the surfaces around
your food. Use it to wipe out your refrigerator and dishwasher, disinfect cutting boards, and clean your sponges.

Tip: If you’re pouring hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle, make sure the bottle is opaque – exposure to
the light will kill the solution’s effectiveness.

Wood cleaners are difficult to make yourself, so buy an eco-friendly furniture-cleaning product.

5. Wood cleaner

Your furniture needs cleaning, too, but not all cleaners are easy to DIY. To avoid damaging or leaving a residue on your wood pieces, we recommend buying an eco-friendly wood cleaner.

• Method’s Wood for Good cleaner costs about $7 for a 28-oz. spray bottle.
• Seventh Generation’s Wood Cleaner costs about $5 for an 18-oz. spray bottle.