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How to Transfer to Another Apartment

Apartment Transfers

Tenants will often dream of transferring to a better apartment unit. That thought could move them to begin searching online for an apartment to rent because they feel an emotional need for change.

Should landlords have a process to register for a better condo or apartment unit when one comes available? If a tenant doesn’t like their apartment, it stands to reason they are considering breaking their lease. If they have hope that another more desirable unit might come available in your building or development, they may decide to wait and stay put.

Transfers are simple, however tenants should be aware there may be processes or lease provisions that may get in the way.  The tenant should be able to find the specific clause in your lease in the tenant portal. Learn more about unit transfer requests below and more on rental lease transfers.

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The Apartment Transfer Waiting List

Women Moving to a New ApartmentNowadays, there is a waiting list for everything including apartment transfers.  The more the tenant knows about the process and what’s in the rental lease and about landlord’s leasing policies, the better. The renter should consult their city and state laws pertaining to apartment transfers.

Tenants may suffer financial costs such as rent paid, their security deposit, as well as incurring transfer and lease break fees.

If you’re a tenant, it’s unlikely you can demand an apartment transfer, nor demand a switch to another rental house if you’re renting a home with a property management firm. For tenants, the better approach to getting a different unit, is to know your rights.  Explain calmly and show the landlord you’re sincere and really need the new unit.

Sadly, units may come available via tenant evictions.

A landlord’s priorities is to be fair yet stay fully leased, since vacancies could hurt their bottom line. It’s good for both landlord and renter to seek some common ground on this task, and for landlords to be open to tenants who show consistent eagerness and consistent rent payment, who might be deserving of the opening.

Investigating the Process First is Smart

If you’re a landlord or property manager, your tenants will appreciate knowing more about the transfer process.  And you need a professionally managed waiting list, to avoid conflicts, bias charges, and resentment. There is little doubt today that renters are on the lookout for a better unit.

You can refer to lease and apartment transfers in your FAQ help pages or ensure it’s clearly stated in the rental, or included in documents in the tenant portal. Many tenants will be inquiring about transfers and you can avoid extra phone time and emails but encouraging use of the tenant portal.


Landlords: It may be best to facilitate apartment transfer requests even you’d prefer to save units for new renters.  And here’s an idea: keeping a loyal tenant, charging transfer fees, and reserving transfers for tenants who rank best in behavior, could help you leverage the full value of tenant’s desire to transfer.


Why do Tenants Ask for a Transfer?

Tenants ask about apartment transfers for a lot of legitimate reasons s including

  • desire more comfort
  • better quality and design and amenities
  • recently renovated unit
  • one a higher floor or lower floor
  • specific amenities they must have
  • escaping noisy or undesirable neighbors
  • nearness to garbage disposal or elevator
  • other residents are unfriendly on their floor
  • they feel fearful or unsafe where they are
  • they don’t like the view
  • too many stairs to walk up
  • unit has recurring mechanical issues

A good tenant is one to keep, so accepting a request for a move to another unit, even a allowing them to move into a more prestigious apartment may be considered good tenant management practice. One factor landlord’s will consider however is the tenant’s willingness to move up to the new rent for that unit.

The tenant’s transfer request could open up opportunities for a rent increase.

Whether you should discourage intra-building moves is a landlord’s decision of course, but here’s a process and policy you could use to manage tenant move requests professionally.

Apartment Transfer Requests

Residents may request to transfer from one apartment unit to another. It’s critical for management to establish a policy with respect to eligibility criteria, to prevent potential claim of discrimination or preferential treatment.

As a good practice, we recommend management work on the following steps:

  • Either residents or management can initiate unit transfer request for a variety of reasons:
    • Health & Safety: for example, residents are the victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
    • Medical Condition: for example, residents who have physical or mental disabilities which may require a unit with special design features as a reasonable accommodation;
    • Change in Household Size;
    • Units are uninhabitable due to fire or water damage;
    • Change in Financial Status: for example, the household is unable to pay rent due to a loss of a job and income.
  • Residents who would like to transfer must make their request in writing by using the Unit Transfer Request form.
  • Residents may only request transfer after living in their current unit for at least 12 months, except when the transfer request is safety, medical, or health related.
  • Residents must be in good standing in order for management to consider their request.
  • Except in certain circumstances involving emergency transfer such as unit is in an uninhabitable condition, members of one household should not be separated into two or more separate households.
  • If the appropriate size of the unit is unavailable, household will be placed on the Transfer Waiting List. The household will be notified in writing when the next unit is available.
  • Residents on the Transfer Waiting list may decline a unit offer and remain at the top of the List. If the resident denies the offer a second time, his or her name will be moved to the bottom of the List.
  • Once the unit transfer request is approved and the household accepts the new unit, the resident is required to pay a new security deposit for the new unit. In other words, no security deposit should be transferred from one unit to another.
  • If parking spaces are assigned to specific units, residents will be required to move to the parking space associated with the new unit.

Unit transfer request should not be granted for the following reasons:

  • There is damage in the tenant’s current unit;
  • The resident has committed a material breach of the lease and house rules;
  • The resident owes fees, charges, or past due rent;
  • Management has instituted legal proceedings against the household;
  • The household does not meet the resident selection criteria for the transfer unit such as income eligibility and occupancy standard.

Your tenants are your most valuable asset.  A professional tenant management process helps you ensure fairness in all dealings.  Check out ManageCasa’s tenant portal and see how much your tenant communications can be improved.

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Please see Gordon’s Leung’s other posts on Tenant Management:  Apartment Abandonment | Landlord Building Rules | Filing to Evict Tenant | Landlord Risk Management  | Lease Management | More Lease Provisions | Building Ops | Landlord Tenant LawTenant Alterations to Rental Unit | How to Manage Property Management Staff


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