Notice to Vacate

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The notice to vacate can come from either a landlord or tenant, which gives notice that the tenant must or will leave the premises in a specified time frame. When a landlord writes a notice to vacate, it is often the final statement after an eviction discussion, and in most states gives the tenant 30 days to vacate the property. If a tenant writes the notice to vacate, then most states require 20-30 days’ notice for the landlords to prepare for the tenant to vacate.

How is a Notice to Vacate Used?

The notice to vacate is used as the final statement after terms outlined in a lease agreement have been violated and one or both parties do not negotiate satisfactorily.

For landlords, the notice to vacate is the final statement after attempting to discuss potential eviction terms with a tenant who violates their lease agreement. Eviction notices are a statement from the landlord that the tenant must discuss the violation of the lease agreement – trash in the front yard, an unauthorized pet, or unpaid rent, among other potential terms – or, if the parties do not come to a resolution regarding the lease violation, then the tenant must leave.

Rarely, landlords may issue an unconditional quit notice, which is an eviction notice or a notice to vacate in which the landlord does not spell out terms for the tenant, but instead simply asks them to leave. If a tenant has questions about this type of notice to vacate, they can consult a lawyer and, in most states, they do not need to leave the premises while legal action is being pursued.

If the tenant writes a notice to vacate to their landlord, the letter essentially states that the tenant will not renew their lease or rental contract and within 30 days (most often) leave the premises. As with landlords, the tenant could choose to leave due to rent disputes, changes to the lease agreement when the original agreement expires, pet clauses, or poorly-maintained property. In most cases, a notice to vacate is a final statement from a tenant and the tenant does not intend to negotiate terms with their landlord.

Many residential contracts come to a close without these statements, but if a tenant or landlord has specific agreements, or the rental agreement involved commercial property, getting the notice to vacate in writing can be beneficial for both parties. Notices to vacate do not cover early termination of lease agreements.

Elements of a Notice to Vacate:

A notice to vacate must include accurate contact information for both parties. The party who issued the document must sign it. The document must also include how long the tenant has before they leave the premises – this is most often 30 days, as required by law in most states, but can be as little as 3 (in the case of serious eviction notices for repeat violations) or as many as 90 days (often for corporations who plan to move to a new rental property and must move multiple employees and lots of equipment).

Other details outlined in the lease agreement – such as whether the tenant can expect their security deposit back, if any amount of the first and last months’ rent or security deposit will be withheld, or expectations of cleanliness of the premises – can be reiterated in the notice to vacate. If specific grievances have caused either the landlord or the tenant to issue the notice to vacate, then these should be reiterated in the notice to vacate, but specific states may have different laws regarding when and how these grievances can be aired.

The countdown to leave begins when the notice to vacate has been accepted in the mail. Because of tenancy laws in many states, you may consider issuing your notice to vacate through certified mail so that you may be notified when the letter has been received.

Our free notice to vacate form can help you get started, but tenancy laws vary greatly by state. Check your local laws regarding tenants’ rights, evictions, and lease agreements. If you have any specific questions regarding your rights in a complex tenant-landlord situation, contact an attorney for assistance.