A notice to vacate is a legal document you send to your landlord (or landlady) that informs them you plan to move out of your apartment, condo, house, or basement suite.
A notice to vacate letter is sometimes referred to by other names:
- Notice of Intent to Vacate
- Move Out Notice
- Intent to Vacate Letter
What is a Written Notice to Vacate Letter?
A notice to vacate letter is a legal notification sent to your landlord so that they fully understand your intent to vacate the premises in the near future — whether it’s 30, 60, or 90 days in advance.
A notice to vacate letter counts as legal notification, so that your landlord fully understands you plan on moving out. It includes the date the tenant will leave the property, where the security deposit should be sent, and details of the original lease.
If you plan to move when your lease is up for renewal, you should still send an intent to vacate letter before your move, since many contracts automatically renew.
When a Notice to Vacate is Needed
A notice to vacate should be sent to your landlord whether you’re leaving when your lease is up for renewal or moving out early. This gives the landlord time to find a replacement tenant and avoids leaving you responsible for paying rent.
Depending on the lease agreement, your written notice to vacate should be sent to your landlord 30, 60, or 90 days before vacating the rental property. Check your rental agreement to find out how many days’ notice you need to give.
If you want to move before the end of your current lease, you should check your lease agreement to see if there are any early termination fees.
However, you still need to send a letter of intent to vacate to let your landlord know you’re going to move. If you don’t provide a move-out notice beforehand, your landlord will expect you to keep paying rent and may even charge late fees.
Giving your landlord oral move out notice — such as by phone or in person — might not be enough. If nobody witnesses your verbal move out notice, you’ll be unable to prove you told the landlord you plan to move out.
Sending a written notice of intent to vacate to the landlord provides you, the tenant, proof you’ve met the time requirements in the lease. Additionally, this letter is a way to give a landlord your forwarding address so they can mail you your security deposit.
A notice of intent to vacate gives you a written record of the:
- Date You’ll Vacate Property: A written record of the date is important if there are questions regarding additional rent payments.
- Date You Sent the Letter: The date of the letter — and the postmark on the envelope — shows that the time requirement agreed in your lease agreement was followed.
- Property Walk-through Request: A final walk-through of the property with the owner is necessary to check if anything is damaged. If repairs are necessary, you can offer to handle them yourself. Or the landlord can take the repair fees from your security deposit.
- Security Deposit Request: Politely ask your landlord to return your security deposit in full.
How to Write a Notice to Vacate
Creating a tenant notice to vacate is straightforward. Include these key details in your notice to vacate letter:
- Date: The date of the letter shows that you’ve met the notification requirements. Make sure that your letter is postmarked within the time frame set in your lease agreement. If you need to give 30 days’ notice of intent to vacate, the letter’s postmark must show it was mailed 30 days before the move-out date.
- Landlord’s address: Since a tenant’s notice to vacate is a legal document, it should be properly formatted and include your landlord’s name and address without any errors. That will make sure that it reaches them as quickly as possible. If your letter can’t be delivered, it may slow down your move.
- Date you plan to move out: You need to give a specific date for your final day in the property (i.e., the day you will move out on).
- Property address or name: Many landlords own multiple properties. When you’re providing notice to vacate your apartment, include the full address of the property you’re leaving to make it clear.
- Final walk-through request: Many landlords won’t return your deposit unless they’ve checked their property is in good condition. Ask them for a walk-through of the property to make sure you promptly receive your security deposit.
- Relevant clause in your original lease: A quick sentence after the date you plan to move out that states you’re giving the required amount of notice mentioned in the lease agreement.
- Your forwarding address: There are several reasons you need to include a forwarding address in your intent to vacate letter. For instance, it allows the landlord to send you your mail, and also makes it easy for them to give you your security deposit.
Intent to Vacate Letter FAQs
Each rental situation is different. These are some of the most common questions asked about writing a notice of intent to vacate to your landlord.
How do I send my notice to vacate letter?
Send your letter with tracking so you can prove it was delivered. If you’re worried the landlord might be dishonest, send your letter via certified mail to prove when you sent it.
Do I need to send an intent to vacate letter if I’m breaking the lease?
Yes. If you’re breaking the lease, you still need to give a time frame for your move. There may be fees associated with leaving prior to the end of the term, but such issues are separate from this notice. Ultimately, you’ll be on a stronger legal footing by sending notice of your intent to vacate than if you simply move out without telling your landlord.
Can I state my complaints about building management in the letter?
Since your notice to vacate letter serves as a record of your departure date, it’s not the right place for complaints.
Does sending written notice to vacate guarantee my security deposit will be returned in full?
No. The letter itself does not guarantee your deposit’s return if there is damage to the property, or there are other issues. In most cases, the security deposit will be returned as long as you’ve complied with the lease agreement.
Can I just call my landlord and tell them I’m moving?
You can. However, using our written notice to vacate letter template gives you a documented record that you’ve met all of the obligations to terminate the lease agreement. Your landlord won’t be able to claim they didn’t know you were moving out and continue to charge you rent and make you pay utility bills.