Tenant Resource Center: Madison “Moving Day” essentials

CONTACT: Brenda Konkel OR Anders Zanichkowsky | (608) 257-0143 OR (608) 345-8720

This Friday and Saturday, thousands of Madison tenants will be moving in and out of their apartments. Here are the most important things to know to save money, time, and stress during “Hippie Christmas.”

Moving Out

Clean Up And Check Out. This is your responsibility! The landlord does not need to give you a check-out form or do a walk-through with you, although of course it’s best if they do. Get a check-out form on our website or in our office. Tenants must return the unit to the state it was in when they moved in (minus normal wear and tear) or they could get charged for cleaning, repairs, and the cost of moving your belongings. This may take much longer than a first-time renter (or even a very experienced one) expects it to. Remember to take detailed pictures/videos, and get a witness to sign for any foul odors!

Be Careful About Property Left Behind! As of March 2012, it is legal for landlords to write their own rules into the lease about disposing of property you leave behind. Check your lease to find out what they plan to do! If there is nothing in your lease about it, then they have to move and store ALL property and, within 10 days, they have to tell you where it is, along with any charges, and give you 30 days’ notice if they will throw it out. You can be required to pay the moving and storing costs in order to get it back. Medical equipment and prescription medication must be stored for 7 days and returned promptly upon request– no matter what. If you think your landlord illegally threw your stuff away, you may end up suing them for your damages in small claims court.

Take Care Of Your Trash! Trucks will be out in full force to dispose of Moving Day items starting August 13. Please put trash and recycling in the appropriate bins, and stack extra recycling neatly or bagged in clear plastic. Put large items on their own next to the curb and keep larger metal items separate so they can be recycled.

What About Appliances? Most appliances, including microwaves, require you to pay a fee. You can also use the e-waste recycling site at UW Madison Lot 45 at N. Mills and W. Dayton for working and non-working electronics.

Donate your stuff! There are lots of good places to take your new or gently used items, like the St. Vincent de Paul and Goodwill, who will have downtown drop-off sites. You can also check out the The Madison Stuff Exchange, CraigsList, and Freecycle. More information about trash and road closures are on our blog.

Stop The Spread Of Bed Bugs! “Curb-shopping” is a risky business. Mattresses, pillows, clothing, rugs, and any furniture with fabric upholstery are a prime spot for bedbugs. You might follow our tips (below) for inspecting them closely – but the safest bet is to leave them where they are. It can be hard for landlords to charge tenants for the cost of exterminating them since the critters are notoriously difficult to track, but it’s best to avoid this altogether. For more information, see our website on bedbug detection and prevention.

Moving In

Move-In Means Check-In! This step could save you lots of money and stress when you are moving out later on! Your new landlord is required to give you a check-in sheet and you have 7 days to return it. If they don’t give you one, get one from us! We have them in office and on our website. Be very detailed and keep a copy for yourself! Take pictures/videos and get a witness to sign for any foul odors. If your landlord promised to make repairs before you moved in, these should have been written into the lease with a date for completion. If there are any issues or delays, report these to the landlord in writing.

Dealing With A Dirty Apartment: This is an unfortunate reality, with so many people moving at once. The landlord still has to maintain a habitable apartment, but unless the issue is a building code violation it can be tricky to get them to take action. If you want to break your lease and be done with it, you might have options including constructive eviction if the situation is truly unlivable. If you want to force your landlord to take action, you can take the steps outlined on our repairs webpage, ending in calling the building inspector. If you want to take care of the problem yourself, and get reimbursed, then follow these steps — and get it in writing!

Dealing With Old Carpet Or Paint. Landlords are not required to do “routine” painting and carpet cleaning/carpet replacement in between tenants, or after a certain number of years, unless they made some other promise in writing. The only time landlords can be required to deal with painting or carpet cleaning is when there is a health and safety hazard such as lead paint, a tripping hazard, or a serious mold problem.

That said, your landlord may be willing to paint or put in new carpet. They get to decide whether or not to allow you to do it yourself, whether to reimburse you for your costs or charge you for their labor, and they may require you to paint it back a neutral color. The same is true for any other alterations, like putting up shelves, planting a garden, etc. Get any agreements in writing, before you make the alterations!

Security Deposit Charges For Carpet Cleaning/Replacement And Painting. Consumer Protection regulations and the Madison General Ordinances say that tenants cannot be charged for routine painting or carpet cleaning. They can only be charged for damages resulting from “unusual abuse” to the paint or the carpets which goes beyond “normal wear and tear.” Even then, they can only charge for actual costs and can be required to account for depreciation. If the landlord paints the whole room or replaces all the carpet, they can be required to show that a less expensive repair was not enough.

QUESTIONS? We are here to help!

For FORMS, SAMPLE LETTERS, and INFORMATION, including WALK-IN COUNSELING:

Website: http://www.tenantresourcecenter.org

E-mail: [email protected]

Main Office: 1202 Williamson Street (9am – 6pm, Monday – Friday)

UW Campus Office (in the Student Activity Center): 333 E. Campus Mall, 3rd Floor

(Monday/Thursday 11am – 3pm, Tuesday/Wednesday 2pm – 5pm until August 31)

Phone: (608) 257-0006