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How to Move from One Apartment to Another with a Lease Gap


Moving to a new apartment is stressful enough, but when the timing on your new lease and your old lease don't line up, the stresses can really multiply. In an ideal world, you'd have the luxury of making your move at your own pace. An overlap of several days between leases allows you to make several trips with your furniture and belongings, or to move when you have the friends (and funds!) to get everything from one address to the next.

Alas, that's not always the case. In fact, since most leases begin on the first day of a month and end on the last day of a month, dealing with a short lease gap is not at all uncommon. What can you do to prevent a lease gap — and what should you do if it's unavoidable? Check out these tips on how to time a move when renting a new apartment to help you make your upcoming move as efficient and stress-free as possible.

In This Article:
  1. How to Deal With Short Lease Gaps
  2. Dealing With Longer Lease Gaps
  3. How to Pack Your Storage Unit Strategically

1. How to Deal With Short Lease Gaps

In most cases, you'll only have to worry about a day or two between apartments. Those gaps are fairly easy to deal with. In fact, you can often negotiate your way out of them.

Check Both Leases Carefully

This isn't an unusual problem, and it's not unusual for leases to make provisions for exactly that eventuality. Check both leases carefully to see if they define the move-in and move-out times. In many cases, you can begin moving your things into your new apartment after a specified time on the day before the official start of your new lease. If, for example, your lease starts on November 1, you may be able to start moving your things in after 6 p.m. on October 31. 

Try Negotiating With Either or Both Landlords

Most landlords expect to have their apartment vacant for a short period between tenants. It allows them to clean, make repairs and prepare for a new tenant. If that's the case, your old landlord may be willing to allow you an extra day to get completely moved out. Likewise, if the unit you're moving into is vacant, your new landlord may be willing to let you start moving in your belongings a day early. This is far more likely to be successful if you're renting from a private owner than from a management company, but it's worth a try in any case. 

Pack a Moving Van or Stay With a Friend

This can work if the gap between your leases is just a night or two and you've rented a UHaul or moving truck for the move. Pack all of your belongings into the rented truck on your move-out day and arrange to stay with a friend or spend the night in a hotel. The next day, drive your belongings to the new place and get moved in. 

Can You Rent Two Apartments at Once?

Yes — temporarily renting two apartments at once is legal. In fact, it's really the most practical and ideal option. You may be able to negotiate a partial month's rent at either the old or new place to give yourself a little extra wiggle room for the move. That way, you can move things over a little at a time as you get settled.

2. Dealing With Longer Lease Gaps

Sometimes, the period between leases can be longer — from several days to a few months longer. When that happens, you'll have to be more strategic about your move. Not only will you have to arrange somewhere to stay for yourself, but you'll also have to figure out what to do with all of your stuff while you're between apartments. 

Look for a Sublet

If the time between your leases is significant — more than a month, say — consider looking for an apartment to sublet. You may even find a furnished apartment, which will save you from having to move twice. 

Rent a Storage Unit

The smartest solution is a storage unit for your furniture and other belongings. SmartStop Self Storage offers short-term rental options that allow you to safely store your belongings, without any long-term lease obligations. You can reserve a storage unit online for free — which also gives you access to current sales promotions, such as a free or discounted first month. With a self-storage unit, you can move out on your end-lease date — and then take your time getting everything settled into your new place. Since you have access to your unit any time the facility is open, you have the luxury of moving in stages instead of having to fit the whole move into one day. And as an added bonus, we also offer a full range of packing supplies and moving equipment to help you with your move.

Pack Smart

Start packing well before your moving date, but pack smart. First, figure out the essentials you'll need to have with you — clothing, important papers and documents, your coffee maker. Those are items that won't be going into storage, and that you'll leave to pack last. As you pack the rest of your house, label your boxes with the contents and/or rooms so that you'll be able to easily find what you need when you need it. Check out more moving tips and download our moving checklist for even more help.

Make Living Arrangements

It may not always be possible to bunk in with friends or family while you wait for moving day, but that doesn't mean you have to pay top dollar to stay at a hotel. There may be options available to you in special circumstances. Some colleges or universities, for example, may offer affordable short-term housing for students (and/or faculty) who are faced with a lease gap of a few weeks. If you're moving to take a new job, check with your new employer's human resources department for any suggestions or assistance they can offer. And finally, be sure to search for "extended stay hotels" near you to find hotels and motels that offer affordable rates by the week or month. Many of them offer amenities such as a breakfast buffet, access to a fitness room, and in-room microwaves and coffee makers. Some may even include full kitchens.

Make Arrangements for Pets and Plants

If you're lucky, you'll find a short-term housing solution that will allow you to keep your pets with you. If not, you'll have to arrange for them to stay with a friend or arrange boarding for them. Plants are simpler — you can take them with you. Just remember to include them in your moving plan.

3. How to Pack Your Storage Unit Strategically

If you're planning to move in stages, think strategically when you're packing your storage unit. There are some things you'll want as soon as you can (finally!) move into your new place — tableware, cooking utensils, bedding and window treatments, for example. Make sure to place those in front, where they're easily accessible. You don't want to be stuck unpacking your whole unit to find the one or two things you really, really need right now. A few other tips to help keep you organized include:

  • Label everything clearly.
  • Keep a detailed inventory of the unit's contents.
  • Plan an organized layout for your unit. Our size guide can help you choose the best size for your needs.
  • Make a map of the unit and tape it inside the door so you can easily locate anything.

The keys to managing a move when your leases don't overlap are planning, communication and organization. Strategic thinking will help you make the most of your resources, and make the move as stress-free as possible.

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