Moving Out Of Your Rental Flat? Here's How To Make The Process Less Painful

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Moving Out Of Your Rental Flat? Here's How To Make The Process Less Painful

STORY: Diane Lam
27 September 2022
moving boxes
PHOTO: 123RF

So you’ve been renting a flat, and at long last, it’s time to move into your permanent home. Whether you’re a young couple whose BTO is finally ready, or a singleton who’s living apart from your parents, the logistics involved in packing and in tying up loose ends with your landlord are often enough to make you wish you’d never started renting at all.

My most recent move involved shifting from my rental flat (where I’d stayed for eight years), into my in-laws’ place, into the home where my husband and I now reside. And I’m here to assure you that while the process can be overwhelming, you can save a lot of time brainpower by working smart and outsourcing some of the logistics.

But before I dive in, you should definitely reread the contract you signed with your landlord. While most landlords will require you to restore the place back to its original condition, some will say that that includes repainting the walls, while others will be glad to close one eye as long as you remove all of your furniture. Your tenancy agreement also includes details on who bears the costs of repairs, so review this carefully to prevent disputes from arising. 

What your landlord asks for might also depend on how much you’ve done with the place since moving in. If you’ve painted the walls blue or installed decorative tile stickers all over the kitchen, then it’s good manners to revert everything to their previous state. If you’ve kept everything else the same, and if you've been staying there for a few years the landlord might let the wear and tear go – others will expect the place to look perfect, and you will incur some loss from your deposit if it doesn’t. Either way, make sure you iron out the details with him or her during your notice period. 

Here’s what else I’ve learned – may your experience be smoother than mine.

Typing up loose ends with your landlord

Once you’ve finished rereading your contract, you should ask your landlord about the things that aren't written in fine print.

This is your chance to ask him or her things like:

  • In what condition should the flat be once I move out? What do you expect me to restore?
  • How do I return the keys?
  • How will I get my deposit back?

Some landlords will not charge you your final month’s rent in lieu of returning your deposit. Are you okay with this? Communicate expectations clearly with your landlord.

How to make packing and moving less annoying

Tip: Hire a disposal company to help you get rid of bulky items

While my housemates and I briefly entertained the thought of selling or giving away all of our unwanted items on Carousell, the process of creating listings, negotiating with buyers, and coordinating meetups because a whole other chore in itself.

Nor could we quite figure out how we were supposed to lug our crummy mattresses and dilapidated beside tables down to the disposal area outside of our lift lobby.

So here’s my advice: If you have any especially nice items that you can’t bear to throw away, set those aside for friends or for donation sites. Don’t overburden yourself with Carousell and Facebook Marketplace unless you’re getting rid of items that were more expensive to begin with or have some artistic value – e.g. a teak dining set in near-perfect condition or a bespoke lamp shade that doesn’t suit your new home’s design.

But once you’re left with a splintery IKEA desk, a rusty shower shelf, and a set of assorted dishware that you’ll never use, it’s time to call the disposal company. Not only can they safely dispose of the items for you in a proper landfill, but they can send a whole crew of able-bodied persons to help you, which will minimise the amount of trips you’ll need to make (trust me, your neighbours will appreciate this).

Disposal companies are a dime a dozen in Singapore, so make sure you contact a few to get a variety of quotations before you proceed. Most charge by lorry, so if you have any especially large items, like bedframes or a couch, describe the sizes as accurately as possible so that you don’t get any surprise charges on the day itself.

I spent about $500 for disposal (3/4 of a load) for my items, which included a single bed, a dining set, some study desks, some old bookcases, and several boxes of unusable junk.

Tip: No time to pack? Hire a moving company that also packs for you

Once upon a time, I tapped on the goodwill of friends to help me move from place to place. During my younger years, I’d even do it myself, making multiple trips from Point A and Point B.

Once I realised that no one – save for the saintliest of friends – actually enjoys helping a pal move, I decided it’d be better to outsource the task. Sure, I could save a few hundred dollars by going solo, but booking Grab from one place to another also costs $$$ - and anyway, who has the time to slowly pack and move for consecutive weeks?

This time, I hired a moving company to help me dispose of my items and move my boxes in one day. The whole thing was over in a matter of hours. My only regret is that I didn’t hire a company to pack my boxes for me. My housemate hired one, and once I saw how deftly they packed a decade’s worth of books, cutlery, and appliances in just an hour and a half, I knew I could have saved myself two weeks’ worth of time if I’d done the same.

Moving cost me about $400 for a full load (one lorry), but I could spent less if I’d only needed a partial load.

Post-tenancy cleaning

Trust me, your flat will be a filthy mess once you’ve moved all of your boxes and disposed your items.

Check your contract – it might stipulate post-tenancy cleaning as a condition for getting your full deposit back. So make sure you set aside time to scrub down the place properly. But if can afford to spring for it, you can also hire companies that offer post-tenancy cleaning services, which are a more thorough version of a regular clean. This often consists of cleaning the walls, deep cleaning the oven and the refrigerator, washing the windows, and wiping down any furniture.

On top of it saving you time and energy, the benefit of a post-tenancy cleaning service is that it will deliver professional results. I spent roughly $350 on mine. Again, there are a multitude available online, so check with them thoroughly about the number of cleaning professionals they will send down, as well as whether they will use their own cleaning products, before giving them the job.

Saying goodbye

As much as possible, leave on a good note. If you were lucky enough to have a great relationship with your landlord, they might jio you out to eat or want to catch up with you before you leave – so be prepared to stick around for a while and chat when you’re dropping off your keys.

If you had a bad landlord, well, good riddance. But you should still do your due diligence as a tenant. Clean up after yourself and don’t like, curse it before leaving.

Finally, if you’ve met the neighbours and have a good relationship with them, make sure you say a proper goodbye!  

Once you’ve achieved proper closure, you’ll be more ready than ever to move into your new residence, and into your next season of life –  and now, the unpacking begins (stay tuned for part 2!).

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