Moving Out

Before Moving Out

  • Notify the landlord in writing that you will vacate the rental.
  • For month-to-month agreements written notice must be given AT LEAST 30 days prior to the day you plan to move. Counting begins the day after the landlord receives it.
  • You can write a letter to your landlord or use our 30-day notice form. Do not give notice by email; it is not legal notice. If you have a lease agreement and wish to move before the lease period expires, get legal advice. It can be very expensive to break a lease. See our Advising page for free and/or low cost legal advice resources.
  • Clean the rental thoroughly. The tenant’s version of clean and the landlord’s version often differ. Use our Move-out Cleaning Checklist.
  • Schedule a pre-move out inspection with your landlord to occur within two weeks of your move-out date. This is your legal right as a tenant, but you must request it (California Civil Code 1950.5 Security Deposits). If further cleaning or repairs are needed in order for you to get your deposit back, you will have time to do so before you vacate the premises. By law you have the right to attend this inspection AND to receive a list of items in writing to correct at the time of the pre-move out inspection. Request a joint move-out inspection (PDF).
  • Notify all utility companies of the date to terminate your responsibility for payment of services. Santa Cruz Municipal Utilities asks to be notified at least 2 days in advance.
  • File a change of address form with the Postal Service. You can do this online.
  • Remove your discards, junk, and trash from the property. Don't leave that stereotypical “free couch” on the front steps or in the yard. If you replaced a tenant, you are still responsible for removing items they left when the entire household moves out.
  • The City of Santa Cruz offers free bulky item hauling at the end of the spring quarter. For more information, go to There are also a number of hauling companies, large and small, that you can hire, just make sure that they are insured. If you plan ahead, you might go in with other nearby student households to save money. Minimum charges of hauling range from $50.00 to $75.00.

After Moving Out

  • You are entitled to receive your deposit, or a portion of it with an itemized list of deductions, within 21 days of vacating the premises and surrendering all keys.
  • By local ordinance, you are also entitled to interest on your security deposit, except in Scotts Valley.
  • Should it become necessary to write a deposit-related letter, the California Courts website has helpful templates. Sample deposit dispute letter (PDF)