Moving out of a rental is easy with good communication between you and your landlord. Your lease and applicable law typically require that you give your landlord proper notice of your intention to move. Failing to give proper notice won’t prevent you from moving, but it can cause you to incur more expenses, such as another month's rent. These expenses are avoidable if you review your lease for move-out notice requirements and heed state and local laws.
Give Enough Notice
In most states, a landlord is entitled to a 30-day written notice before you move out, if your tenancy is based on an oral agreement or a written lease for a month-to-month rental. In some states, the notice period for these types of tenancies is shorter -- such as seven days in North Carolina. If you have a written lease for a rental term longer than month-to-month -- for example, a six-month or one-year lease -- read your lease to determine the notice period.
Deliver Notice in a Timely Manner
Determining when you must give your move-out notice is as important as determining the notice period. For oral agreements and month-to-month written leases, you can generally give notice 30 days before the date you plan to move out. For example, if your rent is due on the first of the month, you can give your notice on the fifth of the month -- however, you must pay the rent for the entire notice period, including the five days of the next month. Some written leases may require the notice be given on a specific day, such as the first of the month or the day the rent is due. In these situations, if the notice date passes and you decide to move, you'll have to wait until the next notice date to give a timely move-out notice.
Detail Your Plans in a Letter
You don't need a special form to give a 30-day notice to your landlord. A letter is sufficient. The content of the notice is most important. Address the letter to your landlord or person authorized by the lease to receive notices, such as the property manager. Date the letter and state your intention to move from your apartment and that you intend your letter to be your 30-day notice (or other required time period as specified in your lease). State the date by which you intend to move out of your apartment. Sign your letter and include a forwarding address and telephone number so that your landlord can contact you about returning your security deposit. Always make a copy to keep for your records.
Deliver Your Notice by Hand
The best way to deliver your 30-day notice is by personally handing it to your landlord or authorized property manager. This will clearly establish the date you gave your 30-day notice. If your landlord is not readily available, you may have no choice but to mail the notice. In this situation, consider tracking the mailing by purchasing an appropriate service from the USPS, such as certified mail. Also, you should plan to mail your 30-day notice at least five days before you want it to be effective to account for delivery time.
Put Additional Information in Writing
Depending on your state's laws, you may want or need to include additional information in your 30-day notice. For example, California law allows tenants to request that the landlord inspect the apartment before the move-out date to facilitate return of a security deposit. You can include such a request in your 30-day notice. Some states also give victims of domestic violence the right to terminate a lease early by giving the landlord an appropriate written notice. Such notice usually must include a statement that the tenant fears imminent danger from a person subject to a restraining order.
- Nolo: Ending a Month-to-Month Rental Agreement
- California Department of Consumer Affairs: Moving Out
- Tenants Union of Washington State: Best Practices and Tips for Tenants
- North Carolina Legislature: § 42-14 Notice to Quit in Certain Tenancies
- Minnesota Attorney General: Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities
- Nolo: How Month-to-Month Tenancies End
Joe Stone is a freelance writer in California who has been writing professionally since 2005. His articles have been published on LIVESTRONG.COM, SFgate.com and Chron.com. He also has experience in background investigations and spent almost two decades in legal practice. Stone received his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from California State University, Los Angeles.