How to Write a Move-Out Letter to Landlords


There was a time when tenants in some states were hardwired to their lease agreements, meaning that they were not expected to vacate the dwelling unless they paid the full balance due at the end of the term. After the collapse of the real estate market in 2008, many former homeowners became renters, and this situation prompted many state legislatures to amend their statutes for the purpose of giving tenants greater flexibility.

Most states these days allow tenants to move out of their rented homes or apartments provided that they formally present written notice to their landlords. The letter must be written in compliance with the lease contract and state laws; in cases when there is no contract, such as in Airbnb short-time rentals, no written notice is required since all states require executed agreements in order to formalize the lease.

The first step in composing the letter is to review the provisions of the lease agreement. A flexible agreement that rolls from one month to the next may still require a 30-day notice; giving notice of intent to vacate under 30 days may result in forfeiture of the deposit. The more common lease agreements are for fixed terms of six or twelve months; these contracts may have clauses that force tenants to pay rent for another month after they return the keys, but the landlord may still be required to return the deposit. In states where landlords are allowed to collect rent payments for the first and last month before moving in, tenants do not have to worry about going out-of-pocket when they present their 30-day notice.

In the case of luxury or commercial lease agreements, tenants may be better off having an attorney review the contract before writing the letter. Residential tenants can follow the steps below:

* The letter should start with the landlord’s name and address as they appear on the contract.

* The date of the notice should be 30 days before the intended departure date.

* The body of the letter should clearly state the intent of terminating the lease within 30 days, and the move-out date should be in month-date-year format.

* If the agreement includes a refundable deposit provision, it is a good idea to request it on the letter. At this point, the tenant should also promise to clean the dwelling space and return it in a reasonable condition as per the lease agreement.

* Most states direct landlords to refund the deposit by means of a check sent to a physical address or post office box; this information should appear on the letter.

* A notary stamp is a good idea but is not required to authenticate the signature on the letter. After making a copy, the tenant should choose a delivery method that features tracking or proof of receipt.