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How to Give Your Landlord a Notice of Intent to Vacate

Are you considering moving out? Maybe you need more rental space or are even considering buying your first home? If you are renting condos or apartments and plan to move shortly, it is appropriate to give your landlord a notice of intent to vacate. Not only does it give them time to find another tenant, but it is a legal requirement that you have agreed to.

As a tenant, you need to give your landlord notice to vacate before moving out. But what is a notice to vacate letter and how do you write one?

What is a Notice to Vacate Letter?

A notice to vacate is a letter telling the property owner or manager that the tenant wishes to end the lease. This intent letter to vacate the home is required for most rental agreements. It can even be a requirement when the lease has a firm end date.

How Much Notice Do You Need to Give?

notice of intent to vacate

There are laws governing landlord and tenant agreements, which require the tenant to give the landlord adequate notice. The amount of time the tenant needs to give will depend on the state laws as well as the length of the lease. Typically, the longer the lease runs, the more notice is required to be given.

In the lease agreement signed with your landlord, there should be information on how much notice must be given. You can also check the state’s laws to ensure you are on track. It’s also essential to know the consequences of breaking a lease early.

  • Long-term Lease:

A tenant with a lease that runs for a year will have agreed to stay in the rental until the end of the lease. They can decide not to renew at the end of the agreement and then move out. In thiat case, tenants need to give 30 days’ notice or more if they don’t want to renew, though some states may require longer notice.

  • Monthly Leases:

Tenants that rent month-to-month should also give 30 days’ notice to their landlord. These contracts are known as a tenancy-at-will agreement.

  • Weekly Leases:

Someone who is renting week-to-week should give a weeks’ notice that they want to move out.

Giving Written Notice of Intent to Vacate

giving notice of intent to vacate

The notice to vacate should be a formal written letter that is either mailed or handed to the landlord or their representative. If you are mailing the letter, you might want to use certified mail that provides you with a receipt of delivery. This way, you can have proof of sending the notice to your landlord and that you followed the rules.

If there is any dispute over the notice of intent to vacate, a certified letter will be proof you have done what was needed properly.

What Does a Notice of Intent to Vacate Letter Look Like?

It has to be a formal letter that includes the following:

  • Your name and current address.
  • The date.
  • Name of the landlord or management company and their address.
  • A statement saying that you want to move out and the number of days’ notice you are giving.
  • The date you wish to move out.
  • An inquiry on when your security deposit will be returned (mention the amount).
  • A forwarding address and phone number.
  • Reason for leaving, if you want
  • Your signature.

The Walkthrough Inspection

intent to move out

When you leave the apartment, it should be in the same condition as when you moved in. In some states, there is a requirement for walkthrough inspections to be completed by the landlord before you move out, but only if you agree. The landlord has to give advance notice of the date and time of the inspection.

The walkthrough allows the landlord to check the condition of the property. The landlord or representative will look for things that are broken or damaged in the home, which could cause deductions to your security deposit.

Normal wear and tear is expected and shouldn’t affect how much of the security deposit is returned. Wear and tear can include small stains on the carpet, light scrapes on wooden floors, discoloration due to sunlight, and anything that hasn’t been caused through neglect or intentional damage. Basically, anything that has reasonably occurred through normal use.

You will be given a list of deductions, which includes changes made without the landlord’s consent, like repainting in a different color. The issues pointed out can be fixed before the move-out date. This means that you get the opportunity to have your full deposit returned.

Though you do have to pay for the fixes, it will likely be less than the amount the landlord will want to deduct from the security deposit. Keep in mind that, if the cost of repairs is more than the security deposit, you will have to make up the difference.

Here is what a move-out inspection form looks like, that both you and the landlord will execute.

Returning the Deposit

landlord signature return deposit

There might be a legal requirement in your state that sets out how much time the landlord has to return the security deposit. This will often be 30 days or more from the end of the lease date.

You should have provided a mailing forwarding address to the landlord in the intent letter to vacate the property, which will be used if they are going to mail the deposit to you.

Showing the Property to Potential New Tenants

Once you have given notice of intent to vacate, the landlord can show the home to possible new tenants. The landlord must give you a fair notice, which could mean a 24 hours’ warning before the showing. Some states can require longer notice, with as much as 48 hours’ time.

What Happens If You Don’t Give Notice of Intent to Vacate?

notice of intent to vacate letter

If you don’t give the necessary notice to the landlord, as set out in your lease, there could be more rent to pay. This means that, if you don’t give 30 days’ notice — or whatever your required number of days is — you could have to pay another month’s rent.

There are many things to do before moving. However, giving ample notice when planning to vacate a rental soon is as much common courtesy as it is legally binding. With so much on your plate, it’s easy to forget vital things such as letting your landlord know about your intention to move. Don’t let this happen or it could be costly, such as having to pay double rent for a month.

Mihaela Buzec
Mihaela Buzec
Mihaela Buzec is a senior writer and online content developer for RentCafe. She covers topics about everything related to the renting lifestyle, from decorating and interior design to finding the right apartment, frugal living, money saving advice, and more. She dives deep into topics of interest, writing well-researched comprehensive guides on subjects such as renting with pets, saving on utilities, or avoiding rental scams to help renters stay informed and live smart. Mihaela holds a BA in English and German Language and Literature, an MA in Current Linguistics, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in neurolinguistics.

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