Written by Lauren Cahn on 09/15/2020

How to Write a Notice to Vacate Letter

When the school year gets underway, things typically get busy on the rental property market. Landlords and rental property managers usually have an edge in negotiating lease agreement terms, although there are steps renters can take to their own advantage, too.

If the end date for your lease is approaching, now might be the perfect time to renegotiate the lease agreement for your current address. Or it might be a good time to shop around for a new apartment with better terms. 

If you know you’re planning to vacate, it’s in your best interest to send your landlord/property manager a move-out notice that specifies your intended move-out date. That’s where a written notice to vacate — also referred to as a “notice to vacate” or “notice of intent to vacate” — comes in. 

What happens at the end of a lease agreement?

When a lease agreement is coming to an end, the tenant and landlord have the following rights: 

The tenant has the right to:

  • Vacate and have the security deposit returned (assuming the property has been left in good condition).

  • Renew or revise the lease agreement.

If the tenant does neither, the lease agreement continues as a periodic tenancy (also known as a month-to-month tenancy). That means the lease converts to a one-month lease that automatically renews each month until either party provides legal notice to the other.

“Legal notice” refers to proper notice as required by the lease and state law, including a notice letter specifying the time frame and other necessary information. A qualified attorney experienced in real estate law can provide further insight and information about such proceedings.

The landlord has the right to:

  • Terminate the lease agreement and require the tenant to vacate by providing legal notice.

  • Raise the rent and negotiate a new lease by providing legal notice.

The number of days’ notice varies by state, but most of these procedures require at least a 30-day notice. If the landlord does neither (or fails to provide the minimum notice required by law), the tenant can legally remain on the premises under a month-to-month basis, as described above. 

What is a notice of intent to vacate?

A “notice of intent to vacate” is a written notice provided by the tenant to address one of the situations described above. 

A landlord notice (i.e., one sent by the property manager or landlord) identifies the specific date by which the tenant must vacate or risk the commencement of eviction proceedings. (This notice is not the same as a lease termination letter or an eviction notice.) 

Conversely, by sending a notice to vacate letter, a renter acknowledges the ending of the lease agreement and confirms the date they intend to move out of the property. For a renter, sending a notice of intent to vacate could mean the difference between getting their security deposit back and losing it.

Some lease agreements require as many as 90 days’ notice of intent to vacate, but most require no more than 30 days’ notice. A 60-day notice is not unheard of. Whatever your lease requires, you are responsible for paying your rent until the end of the notice period. 

Failing to pay during that time can result in the loss of your security deposit. If this happens, your landlord retains the right to make an additional demand for reimbursement to cover any damage to the premises beyond reasonable wear and tear. 

Tip: As you approach the end of your lease agreement, review your lease for any obligations it may impose on you as a renter. In doing so, you’ll know what it takes to officially terminate your rental payments and other obligations.

Conflicts not only cost you extra money but also can tarnish your rental history. Seeking the advice of a competent real estate attorney can help you avoid pitfalls if negotiations get sticky.

Before you begin  

Before you start writing, have your lease agreement handy. It contains most, if not all, of the information needed to draft an effective notice of intent to vacate, including:  

  • The property manager’s or landlord’s name  

  • The property manager’s or landlord’s address

  • Your current address at the rental property in question

  • Your intended new address

  • The proper method of delivery for future written notices (e.g., certified mail versus first class mail)

  • The number of days’ notice required

In most cases, all contact information can be found in the Notices clause of the lease agreement’s boilerplate. 

Writing a notice of intent to vacate letter

A notice of intent to vacate letter should include:

  • Your contact information, which should be your current address, email, and phone number

  • The address of the property manager/landlord as set forth in the Notices clause 

  • A “re:” line that says “Notice to Vacate” and identifies the rental property address, including rental unit

For the body of the letter, you can use the following sample letter, filling in the applicable information:


Per the rental agreement between us regarding the above-referenced property, dated _______________, (“Agreement”) I am providing this ___-day notice of intent to vacate, pursuant to Section ___ of the Agreement. 

I intend to vacate the above-referenced unit on the following date:_______. On that date, the Agreement will terminate except for those clauses meant to survive termination, including those regarding the return of my security deposit of $_________ (“Security Deposit”). 

Please send the Security Deposit to the following forwarding address: ____________________________________. If for any reason, you believe an amount should be held back in accordance with the Agreement, please contact me with an itemized list, and the dates and times during which we may schedule a walk-through inspection. 

Tip: You might be breaking the lease because the landlord somehow defaulted on the agreement. If so, include that point in the letter, as well. It can be used as evidence, if needed, for a legal case. 

Feel free to use the above sample notice as a letter template, filling in your applicable information accordingly. If you have reservations or questions, the advice of a qualified attorney familiar with real estate regulations can provide help.

If you’re a renter who’s feeling constricted in your current lease, there’s every reason to consider a new agreement for your living situation. These tips should give you a good idea of how to proceed and cut through some of the bureaucracy that sometimes can be hard to understand. Knowing your rights and how to protect them is the best way to ensure you get a good deal on the next lease you sign.

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