How to Send a Notice to Vacate (Free Template and State Rules)

Laura Olson
Dec 28, 2022

You've been a good landlord, providing your tenant with a quality, well-maintained home to live in and offering plenty of notice when you make any changes. But what do you do when it's time to ask them to leave? 

It can be difficult to tell a renter you need them to vacate the property, and there are many reasons why this may be what's best for you and your business. However, not giving proper notice to vacate can lead to costly legal battles and months of lost rent.

This article explains what you need to know about issuing notices to vacate, including what they are, why you might use one, and how much notice each state requires. We also provide a notice to vacate template letter you can use as a starting point for your own notice. 

This guide will help ensure a smooth transition from one tenant to the next.

What Is a Notice to Vacate? 

A notice to vacate is an official document from either the landlord or tenant letting the other party know they intend to terminate the occupancy agreement. 

This written notice states the tenant must move out by a specific date, often determined by state law. Depending on your rental property's location, a notice to vacate may also be called a lease termination letter or a termination of tenancy.

Generally, a landlord sends a notice to vacate when they want a renter to move out of the rental property. It may be issued before the lease agreement ends, or it may serve as notice that the current lease is expiring and will not be renewed. 

As a rule of thumb, tenants with a month-to-month lease must receive a 30-day notice to vacate before the beginning of the upcoming month. Tenants with a longer-term lease usually require a 30- or 60-day notice before the expiration date listed on the lease.

Landlords and tenants need to understand notice to vacate regulations, as laws vary by state. Failure to follow notice to vacate requirements could result in serious consequences, such as a tenant suing a landlord for violating the state's landlord-tenant laws or the federal Fair Housing Act

Why Use a Notice to Vacate?

Landlords use a notice to vacate to effectively communicate to renters that they are expected to leave the property on or before a certain date. 

This notice serves not only as a legal document but offers peace of mind by providing certainty about the future of the tenancy agreement. It eliminates any confusion or misunderstandings between the landlord and tenant regarding whether or not the tenant must move out of the rental property.

Here are 18 reasons why a landlord might send a notice to vacate:

  1. The tenant has failed to pay their rent on time or is consistently late with payments.
  2. There was a violation of the terms of the tenancy agreement, such as having unauthorized occupants on the premises or engaging in disruptive behavior.
  3. Significant damage was done to the property beyond normal wear and tear.
  4. The landlord is seeking to end a month-to-month tenancy agreement after providing proper notice. 
  5. The landlord needs access to make repairs that cannot be completed while a tenant is occupying the property (e.g., replacing roofing). 
  6. The landlord wants to sell or otherwise repurpose the rental unit for another use (e.g., converting it to a vacation rental). 
  7. The landlord has obtained a court order requiring the tenant to vacate the property. 
  8. The tenant has failed to respond to written notices promptly regarding issues related to their tenancy, such as late rent payments or damage caused by their conduct. 
  9. A local ordinance or law affecting the rental unit obligates the landlord to terminate the tenancy agreement and evict any tenants residing there. 
  10. The tenant is engaging in criminal activity at the rental property, which puts other residents and neighbors at risk. 
  11. The tenant has abandoned the property and left it unoccupied for an extended period of time without notifying the landlord. 
  12. The tenant is creating a public nuisance or disturbing other tenants with their behavior. 
  13. The tenancy agreement has expired, and the landlord does not plan to renew it. 
  14. The tenant is refusing to move out after being given notice to do so by the landlord or has remained in the unit after the termination of the lease agreement without authorization from the landlord. 
  15. The tenant is subletting the rental unit without the landlord's permission. 
  16. The tenant has failed to comply with local health and safety regulations or codes applicable to the property. 
  17. The tenant is using the rental property for an illegal purpose, such as manufacturing drugs or running an unlicensed business from the premises. 
  18. The tenant has threatened or harassed other tenants on the property, creating a hostile environment for other occupants of the building. 

These are some of the most common reasons why landlords may issue notices to vacate. Landlords need to be aware of the specific laws and regulations in their jurisdiction when it comes to issuing notices to vacate, as these may vary from place to place. 

How Much Notice Is Required by State Law? 

The amount of notice required when issuing a notice to vacate varies by state. To make this easier for you, the chart below details the notice period requirements for each state, according to the legal resource website Nolo.com

It's important to note this information may change as laws vary and can be updated at any time. Consult with your local legal advisor or real estate attorney when preparing a notice to vacate. 

Additionally, notice periods may be significantly shorter if the tenant has committed any lease violations, so make sure you understand your state’s relevant laws. 

Best Practices for Sending a Notice to Vacate

Since you now know when a notice to vacate is needed and how much notice needs to be given in each state, it's important to understand the best practices for sending a notice. 

First, make sure to properly document everything leading up to the notice. This includes any conversations with the renter or attempts at resolution before giving notice if you are terminating the lease agreement early. 

Additionally, always provide written notice of termination instead of simply telling the tenant they need to move out. This will ensure the situation is officially documented and can protect both parties from potential legal problems down the road. 

Here are the best practices to consider following when you send a notice to vacate to your tenant:

  • Make sure you understand the relevant state and local laws. Every state has its own laws governing how notices to vacate must be sent, so make sure you know what the requirements are in your area before taking action. 
  • Prepare the notice letter carefully. It should include all necessary information about why the tenant is being asked to leave, when they are expected to leave, and any other applicable instructions or guidelines. Be sure your letter complies with all applicable legal requirements for it to be legally enforceable.
  • Deliver the notice properly. In most cases, a written notice must be delivered in person or by certified mail (with a return receipt requested). Make sure you follow the appropriate delivery protocols for notices to vacate in your area.
  • Give the tenant enough time to leave. Depending on state law and other factors, tenants may be given anywhere from 14–60 days’ notice before they are expected to move out.
  • Follow up if necessary. If the tenant does not vacate as instructed, you may need to take further legal action, such as filing an eviction lawsuit, to get them off the property within a reasonable amount of time. 

Finally, consider using a notice to vacate template that includes all the necessary information. We've provided a template for you below.

Notice to Vacate Template 

When creating a notice to vacate document, you want to ensure the notice is well-crafted and in compliance with all relevant tenancy laws. 

Your notice should include the tenant's name, the current address of the rental property, the date notice is being served on the tenant, and the move-out date by which they must vacate the premises. 

Additionally, clearly indicate key information on your notice to vacate. That information includes the complete details of the landlord/agent, notice length depending on tenancy type (month-to-month or rental agreement), and security deposit refund procedures.

Finally, signature fields for both the tenant and landlord should be included in your notice so there is a documented record for both parties.

Here's a sample template of a notice to vacate:

Download your free notice to vacate template here:

Word Document

Google Doc

PDF

After selecting the link for the format of your choice, click on "File" at the top left-hand corner of the page, then select "Download."

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