How to Write a Notice to Vacate

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Most people think of a notice to vacate as a document that signals the end of the business relationship between landlords and tenants. This is not always the case, although terminating a residential lease is the most common reason behind writing one of these letters.

Essentially, a notice to vacate serves to inform that a tenant will move out of a property. When the landlord is the author, the letter is called a notice to vacate. When the tenant is the author, the letter is called notice of intent to vacate. Many lease contracts come to an end without these notices; this often happens when the tenant decides to not stay beyond the last day of the rental term and gives a verbal notification a couple of months in advance. This is not an ideal practice insofar as real estate compliance; failure to issue a correct notice to vacate could result in legal headaches down the line.

Notice from Landlord to Tenant

In many jurisdictions, it is customary for the landlord to issue the notice to vacate. The reasons for issuing the notice may include:

– The lease contract is coming to an end.
– Lack of payment.
– Lack of compliance with the terms of the rental agreement.

Many templates used for residential lease agreements include a notice to vacate that can be used when the rental term expires; landlords should check with their attorneys before writing a notice to vacate for any other reason. It is very important to check all the provisions of the lease contract before writing the letter; an incorrect date or a misinterpreted term could give the tenant a reason to file a lawsuit.

The notice starts with the landlord’s contact information followed by the tenant’s. The subject line should succinctly explain the reason for the notice to vacate. The body of the letter should remind the tenant that the notice is being served within the time frame stipulated on the lease contract, and it should also clearly state the date by which all personal belongings must be removed. Brief instructions on the final inspection, security deposit and handover of keys can be included as well, although these are normally covered on the lease contract.

Notice from Tenant to Landlord

A notice of intent to vacate is normally filed by tenants who intend to move out before the end of the rental term. The letter should follow the format explained above, but the body of the letter should only describe the intent to vacate and the final day occupying the property. Early lease terminations should be handled in a separate document.

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