Spring has officially sprung in every sense of the term, and for millions of the apartment-dwelling renters all over the U.S., this is moving season. According to Moveline, about 60 percent of all American moves take place between June 1 and September 1. May alone accounts for 5 percent of moves.
Students, who not infrequently find themselves moving around this time, will have their work cut out for them in the days and weeks to come: Many have just finished a semester’s worth of courses and are mentally exhausted, and some are also getting ready for internships, part- and full-time jobs, summer courses and plenty of other endeavors. But regardless of whether you’re juggling the end of school or the demands of a busy career, it’s a lot to deal with!
The secret to mitigating some of moving season’s potential difficulties lies in careful advance planning, particularly as far as cleaning is concerned. In this case, “spring cleaning” means a lot more than a simple once-over with a broom or duster – it also involves making sure things like your utilities are in order. Let’s take a few minutes to go over everything you’ll have to do to achieve optimal peace of mind this moving season.
Clean unto others as you would have them clean unto you
The most essential rule of cleaning up your apartment is to be considerate of the tenants who are about to move into the place you’re vacating. Think about what you’d want to see when you move in.
During the apartment-hunting process, you’re often visiting potential places while people are still occupying the space, and other people’s messes are their business. But on your first day as tenant of a new apartment, you want the place to be empty and clean – and thus bursting with possibility. The last thing you want is to turn your newly cut key, open the front door – and set your eyes upon a complete mess: Dust bunnies occupying the corners, little scraps of paper and unidentifiable debris, stains of unclear origin on the floor or walls and, perhaps the worst possibility of all, evidence of insects or rodents, be it the pests themselves or other, even less pleasant indicators. (Use your imagination, or rather, don’t.)
Any new tenant would hate that. So be considerate and put real effort into this chore, with no half-measures. Finally, Apartment Therapy noted that it’s often necessary for you to leave the space in good, clean shape if you want your security deposit back – more on that later.
All-around cleaning tasks
Begin by checking on the state of the walls. Are they full of holes from screws and nails? Did you mess up a brush stroke while painting the walls and leave errant spots of paint? Painting mistakes can be a major sticking point with landlords, so you should paint over them carefully in the shade you originally used. If you painted and didn’t specifically seek permission to do so, you’ll need to repaint every area the color it was at time of move-in. While small holes from hung picture frames might not be an issue, better to be safe than sorry. Use putty or spackle to fill them in.
After that, dust everything from the ceiling to the bathroom window ledge, using wet wipes or a strong all-purpose cleaner to remove particularly resilient bits. According to Apartment Therapy, you should pay specific attention to the baseboards and all appliance fixtures, which can be significant sticking points for dust and other miscellaneous trash. Last but definitely not least, vacuum the entire apartment. Sweep afterward just to be sure if you have hardwood floors, and dwellers of carpeted apartments should use a heavy-duty cleaning product to remove any stains. (In fact, consider enlisting a professional cleaner. Damage to carpeted floors may constitute breaking your lease’s terms if you leave it unattended and thus remove all chances of receiving your deposit.)
The rough stuff: Kitchen and bathroom cleaning
Here is where cleanup can get hairy, and thus it’s more important than any other part of the process. Your refrigerator and freezer must be emptied, of course, but Moving.com recommended that you also defrost the freezer and wipe down the appliance’s interior shelves and walls. In a nutshell, any area of the kitchen that could be stained or covered with remnants of the meals you cooked and snacks you munched should be thoroughly wiped down, scrubbed and dusted.
This means the cabinets, countertops, sink and floor, but also the apartment’s furnished appliances – oven, stove top, microwave or dishwasher if applicable. Most ovens, even older models, have a self-cleaning mode, but if not, get to a cleaning supplies shop, grab some oven cleaner and apply it to the appliance’s interior. Exercise caution, as oven cleaner is among the more toxic cleaning products if used incorrectly. If you’ve cleaned your stovetop and burners on a semi-regular basis, that appliance shouldn’t give you much trouble, and it’ll be even easier if it’s an electric model. But regardless, remove as much burnt residue and crumbs as possible.
On to the main event: the bathroom. This space might require even more elbow grease than the kitchen, but it’ll be worth it. Toilet, sink, showerhead and walls, tub, vanity, mirror and medicine cabinet – all must be scrubbed comprehensively. According to The Hairpin, Tilex, Bon Ami and tea tree oil solution are especially well-suited to bathroom cleaning. Be sure to open a window while you do this, because almost all bathroom cleaners can be hazardous if the residue they leave on surfaces or in the air is accidentally breathed in or ingested.
Contacting your landlord
You should be in communication with the landlords or management company before, during and just after the move-out process. This is necessary for several reasons: First off, you should know their exact standards regarding cleanliness, the time at which you need to have vacated the apartment, and any other concerns. Secondly, if you don’t contact them beforehand and give them a forwarding address to which they should send your security deposit check, the longer it’ll take for you to receive it.
Landlords must issue security deposits to tenants who paid them upon lease signing and haven’t explicitly broken a lease’s terms. However, your state or municipality may not have guidelines regarding the timeliness of this task, and if there’s no urgency, who knows when you’ll receive it without badgering them?That said, if you’re rightfully entitled to it, you’ll receive it eventually, even if there’s some feet-dragging involved, and only the most miserly, unscrupulous owners are parsimonious enough to rook tenants of a month’s rent or less.
Finally, your landlord can help you get in touch with the new tenant. Touching base with your apartment’s incoming residents will help circumvent any potential snafus, such as both you and the tenant moving belongings at the same time. The gridlock that will result from this is a major headache that should be avoided at all costs.
Out with the old (utilities), in with the new
Although your new apartment, more likely than not, will have its electricity, heat and hot water activated when you move in, they’ll go off eventually if you don’t register with your local or state energy providers just before or immediately after you move. Unless you’re lucky and all utilities are included in your rent, of course – then it’s the landlord’s problem. But most tenants aren’t so lucky.
The ApartmentGuide blog stated that you should ask the management or landlord of your new place and find out exactly which utilities serve the building. While some companies have near-monopolies on regional energy services – such as National Grid in upstate New York and parts of New England, or Passaic Energy and Gas in New Jersey – you’ll ideally have your choice of providers. To find energy providers in your area, click here.
You probably won’t have to be there for the utilities’ technicians to complete the transfer, but ask to make sure, and also see if there are discounts available for new customers. Finally, get in touch with the companies servicing your old apartment and arrange a shut-off date so you don’t keep getting billed. (In the interest of courtesy, make it a few days after you’ve actually left, so that the incoming tenants won’t be stuck without power or heat.
The same principles more or less apply to cable and internet providers. A major difference, though, is that discounts for new subscribers are almost standard in the entertainment utilities business rather than an occasional incentive, and if you’re a student, rates are often particularly low. If you’re happy with your current cable company, transferring services is a fairly simple process, but if you want to try something new, don’t forget to cancel the old cable account. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of transferring your cable and internet services, we (Allconnect) can do it for you in one phone call!
Whew! We know that’s a lot to process. But the better prepared you are, the less stressful the actual move will be. Good luck this moving season!