When a tenant decides he or she will not be renewing their lease, the proper legal steps must be taken to inform the landlord. Giving a landlord advance notice before moving out gives the landlord time to find a new tenant. Learn the amount of notice you must give the landlord when moving out and additional steps you must follow before leaving.
Advance Notice Prior to Move Out
Under landlord tenant law, a landlord has the right to be given proper notice before a tenant moves out of the rental property. The amount of notice required will depend on the term of the lease and also on the specific state law. In general, the longer the lease term, the more notice the tenant must give.
Yearly Leases: Tenants who have signed long term lease agreements have agreed to live in the rental until the lease term is over. If the tenant decides they do not want to renew the lease at the end of the term, they have the right to move out. It is generally accepted that tenants must give the landlord at least 30 days’ notice prior to the date of lease termination. Some states require more than 30 days' notice, so check your local laws and your lease agreement.
Month to Month Agreements: For month to month agreements, it is generally accepted for the tenant to notify the landlord at least 30 days in advance of their desire to move. For example, if the lease ends on October 31, then the tenant should let the landlord know they want to move by October 1, at the latest.
Week to Week Agreements: Week to week renters generally have to notify the landlord of your desire to move at least 7 days in advance of the move date. For example, if the weekly lease ends on the 13th, you should notify the landlord of your desire to move by the 6th of that month.
Check Your State Laws and the Lease Term: You should always check your state’s landlord-tenant law, as well as the lease renewal or termination clause in the actual lease you have signed with your landlord, to determine if there are different requirements that may apply to you.
Written Notice Required
Tenants must give their landlord advance notice of move out as a formal written notice. It is best to mail this notice by certified mail with a return receipt so that you have proof that your landlord received the notice. Another option is to hand deliver this written notice to your landlord at the same time as you pay your monthly rent.
What to Include in the Written Notice
Your written notice to move out should include:
- Today’s Date
- Landlord’s Name
- Property Address and Unit Number
- State Your Desire to Move Out of the Apartment
- Include Desired Move-Out Date
- That You Expect the Return of Your Security Deposit Under State Law
- A Forwarding Address Where Your Security Deposit Can Be Sent
- Your Signature
Landlord's Right to Show Unit to Prospective Tenants
After being notified of a tenant's desire to move out of the apartment, the landlord has the right to show the unit to prospective tenants in order to fill the upcoming vacancy. The landlord must give proper notice to show the unit, which is at least 24 hours’ advance notice but can be up to 48 hours’ notice in certain states.
Tenants should return the rental unit in the same condition it was in when they moved into the unit. Certain states, such as New York and California, require landlords to perform walk-through inspections before a tenant moves out, if the tenant requests, to check for damage in excess of normal wear and tear. During the inspection, the landlord will point out any issues that could lead to deductions from the security deposit. The landlord may give the tenant the option of fixing these damages prior to move out so that he or she can receive the entire security deposit back.
Return of Security Deposit
After move out, the landlord will send the security deposit amount that is owed to the forwarding address the tenant provided. Most states give landlords at least 30 days after a tenant moves out to return the deposit.
Failure to Give Advance Move Out Notice
Tenants who do not give the landlord proper notice before moving out of the unit, may be responsible for paying rent for the entire term of the agreement. For example, if you have a month to month lease and you only give your landlord notice 15 days before the date you want to move out, you will most likely have to pay rent for the entire month, not just for the 15 days of the month you will live in the unit.