- A notice to vacate letter tells a landlord that a tenant is ending a lease agreement
- Using a notice to vacate letter template makes it easier to provide written notice
- Following a letter template helps tenants include key information and follow local and state laws
When a tenant decides to move out of an apartment, they should provide their landlord with a written notice to vacate letter. This document is also known as a lease termination letter.
Unsure what to include in your landlord notice? This guide details the required information. It also provides a sample lease termination letter to help you find the right words to confirm a move-out date.
What is a notice to vacate letter?
A notice to vacate is a written statement given by a tenant to a landlord or property manager. It indicates the tenant's intent to vacate their apartment, condo, townhouse or rental home. This formal letter terminates a lease agreement by a particular date. Most rental properties require a notice to vacate letter that includes a specific move-out date.
Why is a notice to vacate letter necessary?
A tenant must provide proper notice before moving out. Tenants must send a notice to vacate letter even if their rental agreement lists an official end date.
To ensure you provide proper notice, double-check the lease term in the original agreement. Mark the day your current lease ends in your calendar when you first sign a lease so you don't miss it.
When to give your written notice to vacate
When a tenant should provide a letter of intent to vacate or notice to vacate letter depends on the lease itself. Most landlords and property managers need 30 days' notice. Others require 45 or 60 days. Read over your lease to confirm the timing requirements for your specific case.
Seasoned landlords will provide the information that tenants need to provide written notice within the lease or agreement. But if the timing and requirements aren't clearly laid out, look to your state for guidance.
When to provide notice to vacate by state
The notice period varies from state to state. Most states require 30 days' notice. That's usually the same amount of notice a landlord or property owner must provide, as well.
But some states require more notice, so it's smart to check state and local laws. This chart details the notice periods by state.
Is a notice to vacate the same as an eviction?
If a landlord writes a notice to vacate to a tenant, it's commonly known as an eviction notice. A landlord can evict a tenant if they're behind on the rent. They can also evict tenants if they stay in their apartment past their lease term, engage in illegal or criminal activity or commit other lease violations.
A landlord can serve a no-cause notice to vacate even if the tenant has done nothing wrong. A landlord might use a no-cause notice to evict a tenant in order to raise the rent on the apartment unit. Lease renewal isn't possible if the landlord is selling the building or if the property no longer provides subsidized housing.
But even a no-cause notice doesn't mean landlords can just throw renters out with no warning. Although the eviction process varies by state, landlords must provide ample notice to vacate. This means the eviction process isn't immediate. The tenant has a limited amount of time to respond to an eviction notice and make plans to find a new place to live.
Situations that are not grounds for eviction
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to evict, harass or discriminate against a tenant for seven specific reasons. They include race, color, religion, disability, familial status, national origin or sex. The definition of sex also includes sexual orientation and gender identity. If you think you've experienced Fair Housing violations, contact a Fair Housing organization in your state for assistance.
Is early termination of a lease allowed?
Some leases or rental agreements include a clause that allows a tenant to move out of a rental unit before the lease term ends. But tenants may have to pay a penalty (like a month's rent) or forfeit a portion of their security deposit to do so.
If you decide to move before your lease is up, it's very important to provide an early termination letter. You should also provide ample notice.
Some property managers require a tenant to submit a written notification of early termination via certified mail with a return receipt. Review your rental agreement to make sure you're in compliance with your landlord's terms.
There are a few rare circumstances where tenants can break a lease without penalty. They all require additional written documentation.
If you can't stay in your apartment due to a medical issue, you can possibly get out of your lease early. Just know you're required to provide a note from your doctor or a professional that can attest to your medical situation.
Military personnel on active duty can also break a lease on a rental property without penalty. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act still requires a military tenant to submit a lease termination letter and a copy of military orders and/or a letter from their commanding officer.
Domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment or stalking
A tenant who is a victim of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault or harassment can also break a lease if it's not safe for them to stay in their current home. A tenant in this situation will need to provide additional documentation to their landlord.
Landlord failure to conduct critical repairs
You may also leave your current rental without penalty if your landlord has demonstrated a failure to make critical repairs. A repair is critical if failing to fix it violates health and safety codes or endangers your life.
Check your local laws to see if you're protected. Then, consult with an attorney if you have legal grounds for termination.
A sample notice to vacate letter
This sample notice is for informational purposes only and only serves as a guide. The tenant should fill in the parentheses ( ) with their personal information.
Any text included in brackets [ ] is a note to the tenant. Remove it before sending it to a landlord. Remove all parentheses and brackets, as well. Just leave the information included within them.
You should consult your lease to make sure you've provided all relevant details. Seek professional legal advice to make sure you adhere to local laws.
(Current Address of Your Apartment, unit ###)
(City, State, ZIP Code)
(Landlord Or Apartment Company's Name)
(Address as Printed on Your Lease)
(City, State, ZIP Code)
Re: Notice of Intent to Vacate Property
Dear (Name of landlord or property manager),
This letter constitutes my written (number of days' notice that you need to give based on your lease agreement)-day notice that I will be moving out of my apartment on (date), the end of my current lease.
I am leaving because (new job, rent increase, etc.) [If there are problems with the apartment or property, your landlord would probably like to know, but be diplomatic — you have your rental history to consider. This section is not strictly necessary, but is good as a professional courtesy.]
Please advise me on when you will return my security deposit of $ (amount agreed upon in your lease), as well as if you will be taking any money out for damages that fall outside of normal wear and tear.
You can reach me at (phone number and address) after (your moving day).
(Your Name & Signature)
Tips for writing a lease termination letter
Writing a notice to vacate a rental property can feel overwhelming. And writing a clear notice to vacate letters is challenging. Breaking the task down into parts makes the process easier.
Before you write
- Before you begin writing a lease termination letter or notice, thoroughly read your lease agreement. Most lease terms give a tenant adequate time to submit a notice to their landlord. The lease agreement has instructions on what to include, how to deliver the notice to a landlord and any other requirements needed in a lease termination letter.
- Even if your landlord doesn't require a tenant to submit a formal notice to vacate or a lease termination letter before your lease ends, you should send one anyway. It legally protects tenants who have a month-to-month lease or fixed-term lease.
As you write
- Type your lease termination letter. This makes it easy to read and understand. If your landlord requires a handwritten signature, you can print out the letter and sign it.
- Include the date on your notice to vacate. The date will document that you sent it in the correct notice period.
- Add your current address. This reminds your landlord which property you live in.
- Ensure the notice to vacate to your landlord is straightforward and polite. Do not raise complaints or bring up any outstanding issues you have.
- Add reliable contact information. This will make it easy for your landlord to follow up.
- Include your forwarding address. Your landlord will need to send your security deposit to your new address. If you don't have your new address when you sit down to write, send it to your landlord as soon as you have it. A forwarding address is also helpful in case a tenant continues to receive mail past the lease date.
After you write
- Keep a copy of your signed termination letter for your records. You can make a photocopy of your signed letter if necessary.
- Schedule a property walk-through with the landlord. This allows both parties to document items to fix or deduct from the deposit.
- If you're breaking your lease, be prepared to endure some additional financial repercussions. Breaking a lease without cause can cost you as much as two months' rent and your security deposit, so make sure you have funds set aside.
Honor your lease agreement
A lease or rental agreement is a legally binding contract. Tenants should continue to pay rent on time, care for their apartment and obey the terms of the lease, even if they have provided written notice.
Continue to stay in good standing with your landlord, even after approval of your lease termination. If a tenant violates any part of their rental agreement, doesn't allow for a move-out walkthrough or damages the apartment during the month (or even the week) prior to moving out, it may jeopardize their security deposit. The landlord may also charge the tenant penalties for violations or evict them.
But if you do need to leave, now you know what to include in your notice to vacate letter. Be respectful during this process in case you need to use your landlord as a reference on a future rental application.