Some basic information about moving in and out. Click the grey boxes below to expand and view the information.
- Before you Move In
You may legally be held responsible for any damage you, your roommates, and guests do to the premises while you live there. However, you are not responsible for normal "wear and tear." To protect yourself, insist that the landlord inspect the premises with you before you move in.
Write down any damage or problems on a sheet of paper that both you and the landlord sign, along with an acknowledgment that these damages or problems existed before you moved in and you are not responsible for them. If the premises aren't clean when you move in, and you have to clean them, ask the landlord to make an adjustment to your first month's rent, change the lease to indicate that you do not have to clean before you move out, or give you some other concession for having to take possession of a dirty residence.
Remember, by not cleaning the premises before you moved in, the landlord has saved money or time or both. Keep a copy of the movein inspection.
- Moving In Costs and Budgets
The first month will be the most expensive. Take time to estimate your budget before you move, making special considerations for the first month.
Your costs will be less if you have a roommate to share expenses with! Be sure to include the following when working on your budget for that first month:
- rent (some landlords may require first and last months rent)
- security deposit
- cable hook-up and first month of service
- electricity deposit
- moving service or truck rental
- boxes and other moving supplies
- telephone hook-up & long distance deposit
- food and supplies (condiments, cleaning, etc.)
- tuition and fees
- WSU parking pass (if applicable)
- car insurance and fuel (if applicable)
- books and supplies
- other bills (credit cards, loans, etc.)
Don't forget to create a budget for after you have moved in!
- Utility Estimates
To estimate utilities for an apartment or any residence, you may want to contact the customer service department and give them the address. They will be able to give you the average cost for the unit over a twelve month period, plus the lowest and highest bills.
Some apartment complexes use private billing services to bill for electricity. Ask the manager for the average cost per unit; if possible it is a good idea to verify these costs with a current tenant. To estimate your costs or to activate your utilities and services once you've moved in contact:
Power: Avista Utilities - www.avistautilities.com 1-800-227-9187 1-877-GAS-TEAM (natural gas)
Telephone Service: Verizon - www.verizon.com 1-800-483-4000
Garbage: Pullman Disposal 509-334-7914
- Inventory Valuables
Keep an updated inventory of your valuables by writing down serial numbers with descriptions of each item. Photographs should be taken of everything, but especially items that cannot be marked.
Keep a list of your valuables in a safe deposit box or another secure place. You can also give a list to your insurance agent.
- Rental Records
WSU Housing Commission hears many hard-luck stories when certain precautions are not taken. That's why we recommend good record keeping for renters. Lack of knowledge regarding leases or other rental agreements can cause a variety of problems. By keeping records of rental repair requests, security deposit disputes, and other important issues related to rental agreements, you can alleviate many of these types of problems. The most frustrating problems occur when tenants cannot document their grievances. To prevent this, start a rental file as soon as you sign the lease and add to it throughout your lease term. A rental file is easy to keep, considering the money you may recover through rental modification or qualifying for full return on your security deposit. If a rental problem arises, it is easier to negotiate a solution with the landlord when you have written records that show the extent of the problem, what you asked the landlord to do about it and how the landlord responded.
- Your Rental File
YOUR RENTAL FILE SHOULD HOLD:
- Lease and all other related paperwork: Keep a copy of everything you signed.
- A rental log: Use a simple notebook to write all dates and times you contacted or tried to contact your landlord; make a note of any discussion. Logs are a useful permanent record of how the landlord did or did not respond to problems.
- Check-in and Check-out Checklist: This is proof of the condition of the apartment when you move in and out. Keep copies and send the originals to the landlord by certified mail with return receipt.
- Letters to or from the landlord: Make any complaints or serious communications in writing and keep copies on file. All verbal requests should be followed up in writing with copies in your file. -Reports: Keep copies of building inspection reports, police reports and reports from other government agencies.
- Photographs: Photos may be the evidence you need to document a repair or security and always have it signed by a witness.
- Before you Move Out
Ask the landlord to inspect the premises after you have cleaned and moved out your belongings. During the inspection, write down all of the damages that you will be held responsible for and the additional cleaning the landlord wants you to do, if any.
If you dispute any of the damage items, discuss it with the landlord at that time. Be sure to have the inventory checklist you used when you moved in with you to resolve any disputes about damage that was done before you moved in. By completing an inspection prior to moving out, you should be able to rectify some of the problems that may cause you to lose your security deposit. If you and the landlord can agree on the damaged and cleaning items, sign the list and get the landlord to do the same, indicating which items you will repair or clean before turning the premises back over to the landlord.
At the time you turn the keys over to the landlord, give him or her a letter asking for the return of your security deposit within 14 days and give an address where it can be mailed or delivered.
For any legal problems, call 509-335-9539 to schedule an appointment with the ASWSU Student Legal Services Office.
- After You Move Out
Under Washington State law, your landlord has 14 days (excluding weekends and holidays) after the tenancy terminates and you "deliver possession" of the premises, to do one of two things:
- Return your security deposit in full; or
- Deliver to you an itemized written notice of the damages or unpaid rent to which the deposit has been applied, along with any remaining amount of the security deposit.
If the landlord does not comply with these requirements, you may file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court and recover the amount of the deposit wrongfully withheld plus up to twice the amount wrongfully withheld monies. (If you have caused damage to the premises or have not paid all the rent due, the landlord can still hold you responsible by filing a counter-suit against you for the cost of repairs, unpaid rent, and other damages.)
If you have not received your security deposit or an itemized explanation of the items to which it has been applied within 14 days, write the landlord a letter. Explain that you are aware of your rights under Washington State's landlord tenant laws and demand the return of your security deposit (or the portion to which you are entitled) within a specified period of time.
Let the landlord know that if your deposit is not returned within that time, you are prepared to file suit in Small Claims Court to enforce your rights. Note that "Delivery of possession" means returning the keys to the landlord and vacating the premises.