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It’s Time To Move Out Of Your Apartment; How To Get Your Security Deposit Back

in Articles, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Whether you’ve lived in your apartment six months or six years, there’s sure to be some signs that yes, someone has lived there. Perhaps the carpet is a bit worn, perhaps there is a small stain on the hardwood floor or some holes in the wall. While a landlord legally needs to expect some wear and tear, it’s sometimes a struggle getting them to accept that fact. The best way to guarantee you’ll get your deposit back, other than abiding by the terms of the lease, is if you leave your apartment in the best condition possible — and that means cleaning.

The last thing you want to think about as you’re about to enter your next life adventure is cleaning the place you’re leaving behind, but for the cash, it’s definitely worth it. Fortunately, the American Apartment Owners Association has released a checklist for getting your apartment in shipshape. Frankly, it’s a helpful list for your spring cleaning as well.

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You can download the list for free here.

This isn’t the time to cut corners. One in four renters never get their security deposits back. Interestingly, it seems there is more pressure for women to keep a clean place than there is for men. While many lost their deposits for reasons like breaking the lease, many lost theirs for inexplicable reasons.

The biggest reason for landlords withholding security deposits was a tenant moving out early, according to the survey. Almost half — 44 percent — of renters ages 18 to 24 and 33 percent of men who responded to the survey cited breaking the lease agreement as the reason they didn’t get their security deposits back. Nine percent of women and 3 percent of men in the survey of 1,000 respondents said that they lost their security deposits because of pet damage.

But the most alarming statistic: 36 percent of respondents said that their landlords offered no explanation at all for why they were withholding security deposits.

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Fortunately for renters, California laws are pretty much on their side, with some exceptions, and cleaning is one of them.

In California, there are only four reasons why a landlord may withhold a security deposit: to cover unpaid rent, to clean the rental when a tenant moves out, to repair damages caused by the renter, or to replace furnishings (only if the lease agreement explicitly states that this is allowable).

With our exorbitant rents, it’s definitely worth it to spend a few additional hours, even if you have to hire someone, so you get back what’s rightfully yours.

Featured image via Pixnio.

Where To Find Free (Or Almost Free) Boxes

in Posts, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

If it’s been a while since you’ve moved, you might have forgotten to factor in one major cost, the boxes that protect and organize everything you own.

Now, if the movers are packing for you, the cost of the boxes will automatically be calculated into the estimate, as long as you’ve chosen a reputable company. If you are packing for yourself, though, the movers may or may not mention packing materials (which include paper, tape and markers) but you have choices:

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Where can I get free or inexpensive boxes?

1. Buy them from the movers – This is definitely the easiest way, but it may not be the cheapest. Advantage, the movers will deliver them to you for free, and yes, they take up a lot of room in a car.

2. Ask the movers if they have any used packing material – Used boxes can be risky. They often come damaged, but generally, the used boxes you get from moving companies will only be sold (or sometimes given) to you if they are in good condition. Still, with any used boxes, check for damage, including water damage, tears and cleanliness.

3. Check sites like Craigslist or Nextdoor – They usually have free boxes, but again, be careful of the condition.

4. Home Improvement Stores – Home improvement stores like Home Depot have a lot of packing supplies and at reasonable prices.

Whatever you do, do not get used boxes from the grocery store. Even if you can find some that have lids (most don’t these days), they are likely damaged and have been at least damp if not downright wet.

As for the quantity of packing materials you need, your mover will be happy to help you, but Moving.com has a handy calculator that is a great place to start. Who knows? If you ask your mover, they might also be able to get you a great deal.

Featured image via Nicolas Huk/Getty Images.

The Three Weird Things You Probably Don’t Think You Need To Pack In Boxes

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

It’s moving day. You take one last glance around your home before the movers arrive, just to make sure that you haven’t forgotten to pack anything. All you see is a sea of cardboard and your furniture. You’re good, you think. There are three things, though, if you are like many moving customers, that you have likely forgotten to pack, and even if you did remember them, how exactly do you pack them?

No, you don't need to pack your cat.  Image via Douglas O'Brien/Getty Images.

No, you don’t need to pack your cat.
Image via Douglas O’Brien/Flickr
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Here are the three things most people don’t even know they need to pack:

1. Lamps – Lamps are one of the most commonly forgotten items when it comes to preparing for moves. While some metal lamps might be tough enough to go unpacked, if a lamp can be dented or broken, you want to put it in a box. Even if your lamp is made from sturdy metal, you still want to remove the lightbulb and pack that. To pack a lamp, either ask your mover for help or use a dish pack or a specially designed lamp box. For standing lamps, tape two of the boxes together to make one tall box. Wrap the lamp very carefully in paper or in cloth (moving blankets are perfect). Stuff any extra space in the box with paper and pick up the box and lightly shake to make sure there is no movement inside. If not, you’re good to go. Just seal it up. If so, add more paper then seal the box.

2. Pictures and mirrors – Unless you are moving a picture that is virtually indestructible, every single picture or mirror in your home should be in a box. Smaller pictures can fit in dish packs or smaller boxes, as long as they are well wrapped. Bigger pictures, though, need their own boxes. You can buy picture/mirror boxes from your mover and they can fit up to two pictures. As with lamps, make sure they are very well wrapped and that the packed box has no room for movement.

3. Mattresses – For many, mattresses are among their most expensive pieces of furniture. Some movers require mattresses to be in bags (easiest) but some require boxes. It’s recommended that you let the movers take care of your mattress. If you find a mover that says a mattress doesn’t need to be packed, find another mover. That’s how mattresses become dirty and torn.

Before you panic, the good news is that all of these items can be taken care of for a relatively nominal fee from your mover.

How To Deal With Stressed Out Pets During The Move

in Posts, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson 1 Comment

Moving is stressful on everyone, but far too often, our pets, while they are family, are afterthoughts when it comes to the move. Of course, you are busy planning the move and probably packing, but with just a little time and preperation, you can ease the transition and help alleviate stressed out pets.

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1.

Use a crate

If your pet will use a crate, the crate will be your best friend during the move. It’s comforting for pets, like their own little safe den. It also keeps them out of the way when the movers are doing their jobs — if you don’t have another place to take them.

2.

Make time every day

Pets are very intuitive. Even if you haven’t started packing, they tend to know something is up. Once the boxes come out, they start freaking out. Tired pets are less stressed pets, so take some time every day to exercise them. Yes, a dog walker can help, but your pet wants to spend time with you. Play games with your cat. Spend 30 minutes to play fetch with or walk your dog.

3.

Make alternate arrangements for moving dayArrange accommodations at your new home

If you are moving out of the area, it’s best to make arrangments in advance for pet care people. Companies like Rover.com can arrange for pre-screened people to take care of your furry loved ones, whether for just the moving in day or for help while you work.

5.

Plan carefully for the actual move

If you are moving within the area, transporting your pets is relatively easy. If you are moving out of state, it’s sometimes best to drive them, but that’s not always possible. Nearly everyone has heard of flying pets, but it’s become controversial, sometimes undeservedly so. Transporting your pet by air is generally quite safe, but there are companies that specialize in shipping pets. Here is some good information on flying pets.

Featured image via Flickr.

How You Can (Almost) Have Fun On Moving Day – If You Can Afford It

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Who the heck has a fun moving day — well, you can.

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The first time you moved, you probably gathered a few friends, bought some beer and pizzas and loaded a pickup truck, or perhaps a rental truck, and hoped and prayed that everything ended up at your destination in one piece. Even if it didn’t, it wasn’t that big a deal.

Years or decades later, you’d be amazed at the number of people who still move like that, only now, muscles are tighter, backs are weaker, friends tend to be scarcer on moving day and you care a lot more about your belongings. Besides, isn’t it time you stopped busting your butt and had a *gasp* fun moving day?

For many, a sign of adulthood is hiring movers. Still, for most, watching their budget still limits what they can pay movers to do. While most of us are packing our boxes or cleaning our homes, we can’t help but fantasize about what rich people do when they move. Is it really so different?

The short answer to that question is yes, rich people do do it differently, but it doesn’t have to be all that different. Here are five things you can do to move like rich people and some of them might actually save you money.

1. Pay the movers to pack and unpack – Yes, this is a luxury, but not as much as you think. Packing and unpacking can about double the price of your move, but if you factor in the cost of your time, you might come out ahead, even if you aren’t rich.

2. Pay cleaning people – There is nothing more brutal than cleaning up years of dirt that’s been lodged behind your furniture, or the sudden realization that after a hard week’s work, you still have to spend hours cleaning. The solution is simple, though. Pay someone.

3. Go to a spa – This is the ultimate indulgence and will only work if you have someone you can trust at home supervising. Talk about a stress-free move.

4. Go on vacation – Yes, rich people do this. Who wants to live with upheaval if they don’t have to. Of course, you have to have a reliable person to supervise, which leads me to the last one…

5. Hire an independent moving consultant – This might be a little tougher. Most moving consultants work for moving companies, but to protect your interests, find an independent consultant who can look out for your needs. She can hire cleaners and painters and packers and even supervise the move. It will cost money to hire a specialist like this, but she could end up saving you money by using her expertise to hire only the most reputable movers.

You might not be rich, but really, if you spend a few bucks, all you will need to do come moving day is drive to your new home. Now, doesn’t that sound relaxing? Maybe you can even have a fun moving day.

Featured image via Obra Shalom Campo Grande/Flickr.

The Five Best Reasons To Have Movers Pack For You, And Two For Why They Shouldn’t

in Posts, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Saying that moving isn’t fun is right up there with saying that ice cream is sweet and that the sky is blue. It’s obvious. Even the most organized moving customers toy with the idea of letting the movers do everything, including pack. There are a lot of good reasons for it and maybe two reasons you might decide against it.

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It saves a lot of time – In a working household, packing can take weeks or sometimes even months. Professional movers can generally knock the packing out in a day. Think about it, you only have to live with mountains of cardboard for a day instead of weeks.

It saves a lot of mess – See above about the cardboard boxes. You can even pay the movers to unpack and haul away all the packing material. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?

It gets done right – I’m not implying you aren’t a good packer, not at all, but professional movers do it for a living. The best moving companies only allow their most experienced people to do the packing and their most most experienced people to pack fragile items.

Everything is labeled in a way the movers can understand – You might ask why you should care what the movers do or don’t understand, but trust me, clear labeling helps the move go a lot faster. If the movers pack the boxes, they will label them in a way that tells them how to load the boxes on the truck and where to place them in the new home.

There’s no question of liability – This one is not as important as it sounds, but it is important. When movers pack and something gets broken, you know where to point the finger. While liability is very limited, as per federal and state law, you might have insurance that ensures only against mover damage.

While all of this sounds amazing, why wouldn’t you want to have the movers pack for you?

It costs money – While packing is surprisingly reasonable, one of the ways movers suggest to save money is to pack yourself. Of course, you want to weigh the packing rate against the value of your own time, but if you find that you can afford to spend the time, do it.

Movers pack everything – Wait, is this a problem? It depends. If you use moving as an excuse to clear out a lot of clutter, professional movers won’t do that. They don’t know what you do and don’t want to keep unless you tell them.

Of course, there’s a middle ground. Many customers hire movers for what’s called a partial pack. Let them pack your breakables and you can save time and money and sort through the things you no longer want.

What To Do If It’s A Week Before The Move And You Haven’t Started

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

You’ve been thinking about it for a while. You’ve hired the mover, you may or may not have begun packing, but you notice the calendar and your moving date is just a week away. Panic begins to overtake you. You look around your current home. Would it be so bad to stay forever? That’s certainly easier than moving, right?

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While things undoubtedly seem overwhelming now, they don’t have to be. Your moving company is here to make things easier for you.

Since it’s just a week before, we’re hoping that you have done some advance prep work. Hopefully, you have chosen the company that will move you and have done your due diligence on making sure you’ve picked a good one (more on that next week). You should have already gathered your medical and veterinary records and have registered your children in school. This would also be a good time to let your insurance company and your banks know of your move. Hopefully, you’ve also transferred your utilities or cancelled the old ones and set up new. Here’s a comprehensive moving timeline. It starts two months out. That doesn’t mean you have to start two weeks out, but it means that in the last week, you will be busy.

If you live by yourself and you don’t have a heavy workload during the week before the move, you might be able to get your packing done. Your moving company will be happy to deliver all the materials you need and they can even show you how to put together the boxes and how to pack each one.

If you have a family and you have to work, things are going to be much more challenging. This is a good time to let your moving company know you aren’t packed. They can pack for you, but they may want to pack a day or two earlier. If that’s not possible or necessary, plan on a long day. You can still pack as much as you can and the moving company will be happy to finish the rest.

The best advice for last minute packing is to pack the easy things and let the movers take care of the breakables and more difficult items. Clothing and books can be packed relatively quickly, although you won’t have time to sort through everything. Don’t feel bad. Plenty of people have moved and then sorted. The cost difference of a handful of extra moved boxes is pretty nominal.

Personally, I’d rather pack than do the moving out cleanup. If you can afford it, you can hire someone to help. If not, rather than begin packing, start pulling things out of cabinets and scrubbing. This will help the movers and it will save you from having to do that scrubbing afterwards. It’s not advisable that you clean any external surfaces before the move. You’ll just have to clean them again.

The bottom line is we live in a great time. We are all incredibly busy, but if you need something done, you can generally pay someone to do it. Contact your moving company. They might have resources, like cleaning people and even painters. They will certainly take the burden of the actual move off your hands.

Featured image via Pixabay.

You’ve Just Inherited An Estate, Now What?

in Bay Area Real Estate, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

When a family member passes, it is beyond heartbreaking, but when you’re suddenly thrust into being responsible for the family member’s estate, heartbreak can be compounded with stress.

Featured image via Pixabay.

Featured image via Pixabay.

Please note that this blog post is about what happens after the courts have sorted things out. Only a few of our movers have law degrees (kidding), so you really should not be taking legal advice from us. This blog post is also not about massive estates. If businesses or multiple investment holdings are involved, please consult an expert.

Now that we’ve said that, most estates are not massive. Most involve perhaps one home, perhaps a car and anywhere from a few to a great deal of personal possessions. Typically, when an heir or an executor to the estate takes his or her first look, to say it’s overwhelming is an understatement, but with just a little planning on your part, a moving company can shoulder a lot of your stress.

Let’s assume that by the time you’ve called a moving company, all the heirs have ironed out what goes to whom. If not, here is some pretty good advice for maintaining peace while divvying up belongings. Once you know what goes to whom, the hard work is done. All you need to do is label things. Buy some sticky notes and you can color code each member of the family. There are bound to be some items that no one wants, and those can be sold or even stored.

Once everything is labeled, let a mover handle the packing for you. We are experienced with estates and have moved items for major auction houses. There isn’t an antique or piece of artwork we don’t know how to treat with kit gloves. Please, though, if there is jewelry or other small valuables in the estate, move those items yourselves.

In most estates, there are items that don’t necessarily have a home. Some are typically set to be sold and others, into storage. Perhaps some family members don’t have room for their new treasures, so they will also need storage. We can help you with that as well.

Obviously, we can transport the estate anywhere within the country, even if there are multiple destinations.

Don’t let a family death be more stressful than it already is. Engage the help of professionals. We will remain calm during the storm and we will ensure that everything makes its way to its new home. We might even help prevent some family feuds.

 

Nine Tips For An Easy, Breezy Unpack

in Preparing for a move, Your New Home by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

When you’re getting ready to move, there are all sorts of resources to help you prepare. Pretty much anyone, including your moving company, can offer tips on packing. Everyone seems to disappear, though, when it comes to the job of unpacking.

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First off, your moving company (at least if it’s a good one) will not abandon you. They would be happy to help you unpack. Just tell them where things go, and they’ll get to it. That’s for organized people, though, or people who used the moving company to pack.

We live in the real world, though, and in the real world, we start out with the best of intentions. We carefully label and organize maybe the first 20 boxes or so, but once moving day begins to creep up upon us, the organizational system begins to go out the window. Of course, this can all be avoided by paying the moving company to pack you, but we don’t all do that, and that’s okay.

I can’t say I actually enjoy unpacking, but it’s far less tedious than packing, and it’s a lot more rewarding. There is a real sense of accomplishment in seeing your new digs come together with your stuff. So, how can that be done quickly, and with as little hassle as possible?

  1. Unpack cleaning supplies first – You’ll need them.
  2. Unpack the kitchen – Trust me when I say you’ll need your kitchen stuff. Odds are, you don’t have to get too creative with unpacking the kitchen. First, though, put a post-it on each cabinet door. This trick might seem sort of stupid, but when you’re unpacking, you don’t want to think. Know in advance where everything goes, and putting things away will be a breeze.
  3. Electronics – You want to give the kids something to do.
  4. Toys – Ditto.
  5. Unpack the clothing next – Unpack the kids’ clothes first and then yours. The bedrooms should be very easy. When you pack, pack one drawer per box. Then everything can easily go right back in. Your mover should provide you with wardrobe boxes, which makes hanging things in your closet super fast.
  6. Unpack books – You might not need books right away, but they are easy to unpack and they help you feel at home.
  7. Unpack knick-knacks – You can put this off, but I don’t like to. There is nothing like your personal collections to make your new home feel like you.
  8. Pictures on the wall – Like with the knick-knacks.
  9. The garage – I’ll confess, we moved 7 months ago, and there are still boxes in our garage. The garage usually gets last priority, but don’t put it off as long as we have. Your cars will appreciate it.

 

Yes, this sounds easy – perhaps too easy, but it can be broken out. If you work full-time and have children, you probably won’t unpack in a day or a week, but you can in a couple of weeks, if you set aside some time to unpack maybe five boxes an evening.

Featured image via Joe Hall on Flickr. 

What Not To Do While Packing

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson 1 Comment

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You found a new place to live. Now, it’s time to take a look at your old place and start packing. Where to start, though? Over the years, I’ve written several articles giving people packing advice, but most have been from a positive perspective. Usually, though, packing is trial and error, with a heavy emphasis on error if you don’t start soon enough.

  1. One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that everything will go into their new home exactly as it came out of the old home. That’s rare. It will be far easier to unpack if you go through each item and organize them by room, regardless of what room they are currently in.
  2. Don’t buy low quality packing materials. It might be tempting to check the back of the supermarket, but those boxes are often damaged and don’t have lids. Spend a little bit of money on materials. Never, ever use trash bags. They break and they take up too much room on the truck, since they don’t stack. Your mover or Home Depot can help you with materials.
  3. Don’t buy only big boxes. Bigger boxes means fewer boxes, right? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have an easier or a cheaper moving day. Use appropriately sized boxes. Light things can go in big boxes, but heavy things need small boxes.
  4. Don’t pack your kitchen first. Your kitchen is the most used room in the house, with the possible exception of bathrooms. If you don’t use things every day, sure, pack them, but don’t pack anything you’ll find yourself needing before you move.
  5. Don’t go without a plan. Personally, I like to set a plan of 2-5 boxes a day (depending on my schedule and what I’m packing). I pack books, toys, out of season clothing and other non-essentials first. I begin hitting the essentials a few weeks before the move.
  6. Don’t neglect pictures on the walls and lamps. Odd shaped items often still need to be packed, especially if a mover is moving you. You can take them in your car, which is advised, or you can have the mover pack them. Just remember that come moving day, someone has to move them. Don’t be surprised if you get hit with a little extra on your moving bill if you forget.
  7. Don’t make arrangements for kids and pets. The last thing you want on moving day is to have your kids and pets underfoot. Send them with babysitters. The movers will thank you and you won’t have to be chasing after them all day.
  8. Most importantly, don’t over stress. Naturally, moving is stressful. Little can change that, but if you don’t get all your packing done, your mover can help. Just be aware that there will be a charge. It’s best to discuss this with them before the move.

 

Featured image via Pixabay

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