1. Take photos
Photos of bare and unadorned rooms? Yep. If you’re renting, these are essential when the time comes to get your security deposit back. Photos are also important if you bought a new home, since a fair amount of time may have passed between the inspection and when the previous owner finally took a powder. If any damage occurred in the interim, or the movers scratched a previously pristine floor, document it. A gallery of pictures taken before your furniture makes it inside will be worth a thousand words—and maybe more than a couple of bucks—should you need to point out damage.
2. Check your belongings for breakage
If you hired movers to either pack or move your belongings, “you have a limited amount of time to report any suspected damage or missing items,” says Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network. “Make sure that if a major appliance was moved”—such as a refrigerator, washer or dryer—“they still function as they should. Review your contract to determine liability coverage if you discover a problem.”
3. Figure out when and where to leave your trash
As you unpack, you’ll be eager to get rid of the trash, so finding out from your landlord, homeowners association or neighbors when and where you can do that is key. “You won’t want to miss pickup day when you’ve got piles of cardboard lying around,” says Desmond Lim, founder of Boston’s moving website QuikForce.
4. Change the locks
It’s your home now, but who else had the keys when the previous residents lived there? No one wants even the slightest question about safety lingering over a new home. This makes swapping out locks as soon as you can “one of the most important things homeowners can do when they are settling into a new property,” says Marty Hoffmann, vice president of marketing at Kwikset.