Whether you want to avoid your lease automatically renewing, or you simply found another apartment that works better for you, you’ll need to give your landlord proper notice of your plans using a notice to vacate letter.
What does a notice to vacate mean? Simply put, a notice to vacate is a letter sent to your landlord to let them know that you (the tenant) want to move out of your rental property.
What Is a Notice to Vacate?
A notice to vacate is a legal document sent to your landlord or property owner so they know when you (the tenant) plan to move out of your rental property. The document typically includes the date of departure, a forwarding address for mail, and any relevant details from the lease regarding cleaning and your security deposit.
The notice serves two purposes — it protects the tenant by showing that you gave your landlord sufficient warning of your intention to leave, and it protects the landlord by giving them adequate time to find a new tenant.
How to Send a Notice to Vacate
First, you’ll need to fill in a notice to vacate template, which provides the formatting and legal language needed for your notice. All you have to do is add your personal details.
(If you’re a landlord who needs to send a notice to vacate letter to a tenant, we have those too.)
When filling out your notice to vacate, make sure you send it within the time frame required by the lease. Most leases require notice 30 days before you plan to move out (or the lease expires), and some may require 60-90 days.
Once you’ve written your letter, you need to get proof that the notice was postmarked at least 30 days (or the time frame required by your lease) before the move-out date and get a tracking number so you can prove that the notice was delivered to your landlord.
Do I Need to Write a Notice to Vacate Letter? What Happens if I Don’t?
There is no absolute need to write a notice to vacate unless your lease requires one. However, we always recommend it because it ensures you and your landlord are on the same page about your plans.
It’s a good idea to write a notice to vacate letter if:
- Your lease is up for renewal: If your lease automatically renews or rolls over to a month-to-month at the end of the lease term, then you should send in a notice of intent to vacate, so you don’t end up paying rent for an apartment you no longer live in.
- You plan to leave early: Especially if it’s for cause or your landlord was originally okay with you leaving, breaking the lease may subject you to other fees or penalties, based on the terms of the lease. Having your agreement in writing will be essential if you go to court.
- You’ve had a contentious or litigious relationship with the landlord: If your relationship with your landlord is already precarious, it’s especially important to get everything documented in case your landlord tries to claim you didn’t give them proper notice before moving out.
Make sure you’re following all the guidelines in your lease agreement and documenting each part of the process.
How Much Does it Cost to Produce a Notice to Vacate Letter?
Writing your own letter costs nothing, and our downloadable templates are free. You’ll only be out the cost of mailing your notice to vacate letter.
The best way to lower moving costs is to make sure you deliver your notice to vacate letter in plenty of time so your lease doesn’t automatically renew.
The Pros and Cons of a Notice to Vacate Letter
The main benefit of a notice to vacate letter is that it ensures you’ve followed proper procedures and you’re on the same page with your landlord when moving out of your apartment. Even if it’s not required, the extra step can go a long way in preventing a dispute.
The only downside to writing a notice to vacate is that it requires a little time and planning to do it right. Considering the long-term benefits, though, it’s worth your effort to take a few minutes to write and deliver a notice to vacate letter.
Where to Get a Notice to Vacate Letter
You can write your own tenant notice to vacate letter or make the most of our free notice to vacate template. We have all the legal terms filled in, so all you have to do is add your personal information.
We’ll cover some of the most-asked questions about notices to vacate:
Do I need to send an intent to vacate letter if I’m breaking the lease?
Yes, you should still use a notice to vacate letter if you want to break your lease. You need to give a time frame for your move, and the more time you can give the landlord, the better chance you have of avoiding additional penalties.
Does sending a written notice to vacate guarantee my security deposit will be returned in full?
No, there’s never any guarantee you will get any or all of your security deposit back. The lease usually states what’s required for a return in full, but there may be deductions for replacing damaged property. That said, sending proper notice to your landlord increases your chances of getting some or all of your deposit back.
Can I just call my landlord and tell them I’m moving?
Yes, you can inform your landlord verbally of your plans to move, but you won’t have a written record of giving your landlord proper notice. It’s always best to send them a written notice in addition to a phone call or in-person conversation in case there’s any question in the future of when you delivered the notice and when you plan to move out.
How do you write a 30-day notice letter?
First, download a notice to vacate template and fill out the necessary information. Make sure the move-out date you put in the notice is at least 30 days after your letter will be postmarked.
Then, send the letter by registered or certified mail so there’s proof of mailing and delivery.
Be sure to keep copies of the letter, the mailing receipt/certified receipt, and the lease agreement until after your security deposit has been returned.
What is the difference between notice to vacate and eviction?
A notice to vacate is written by the tenant to inform the landlord of their intent to move out of their rental property. It’s typically sent 30, 60, or 90 days in advance of the tenant’s intended move-out date, according to the requirements of the lease agreement.
An eviction notice, sometimes called a notice to quit or notice of termination, is written by the landlord to inform the tenant of the number of days they have to cure a problem (like past-due rent) or move out.
What do you write in a notice to vacate?
Your notice to vacate letter should include the following:
- The date your letter is sent
- The date of your planned move-out
- The landlord’s correct address
- The rental property address
- A final walkthrough request
- Your new forwarding address
Make sure you and any other tenants sign the letter before sending it to your landlord.