Sometimes you have to change apartments because of unexpected circumstances and need to give notice earlier than planned. In other cases, you just don’t know how to break the news to a landlord or management company.

There’s a right way to give notice . . . and a wrong way.  Follow these steps to learn  how to properly give notice on your apartment so you can protect your deposit and your reputation and get a goof referral in the future.

Know your lease

Your lease is your guide to the manner in which you should give notice and how much notice is required. Hopefully, you’ve become acquainted with this document during the course of your tenancy. If not, it’s time for a crash course.

Your lease will state all the terms of your rental agreement, how long you signed a contract for,  how many days of notice you need to give (in increments of 30), and what penalties or possibilities exist should you  have to take your leave early.

In some cases, you may owe your security deposit, a month’s rent or more. If you can, always give more notice than the lease requires.

Keep in mind that the notice usually must coincide with the rental period, which runs in 30-day cycles and usually (but not always) begins on the first day of the month. If you moved in on the 1st, you’ll need to give notice before the 1st, typically a month before you plan to move out.  See what your lease says about how many days in advance you have to let management know.

Hot Tip: Put the day you have to givev notice on your calendar with an alert, if possible. Missing this date could cost you money.

Have a plan for where you’ll go

The last thing you want to do is give notice you’re leaving without having your next move firmed up.  You dont have to have movers hired, or even necessarily have signed a lease (if there are a lot of availabilities where you want to move, or you’re not picky), but you don’t want to be in the position of having given notice, then realizing you must vacate but you don’t have an idea where you’re going next.  Figure that out before you give your notice, and keep in mind that the date you have to give notice is usually FIRM.  So work backwards from there, and get a plan together.

Put your intentions in writing

A written letter and a  follow-up phone call is the best way to give notice, but check your lease for details.  Your letter will need to include your address and unit number, the date of the letter, the address of your complex, your intention to leave, the date you intend to move, if that concludes your lease or if you are making arrangments for another tenant until it ends, and a request for knowing about your deposit.

Sample Letter for Giving Notice

Be sure to have all roommates on the lease sign the letter, and provide a forwarding address for each of you, as well as an address to which the security deposit can be sent.

Have proof you delivered your notice

Keep a copy of your letter and send it certified mail or get delivery confirmation. You can also deliver it in person, but if you do so, ask for confirmation of its receipt.  Email is another option; be sure to request a confirmation reply that it was received and read.

If you’re planning on attaching your letter to an email, you might even send a second email to alert management that a letter with an attachment is your notice of intent (in case the attachment throws your email into a spam folder).  The simplest way, by far, is to simply mail the letter with delivery confirmation.

Ask for a good referral

If you’ve been a good tenant – following the rules and paying your rent on time – then by all means ask your apartment manager to give you a good referral in the future. This recommendation can help you secure the apartment of your dreams and possibly beat out any competition in a tight market.

If it gets tense

Taking the above steps should protect you from any legal action or withholding of your deposit, assuming you have left the apartment in the same condition you found it. However, occasionally disputes do arise.

Know your rights and be sure to have documented any problems with the landlord or other tenants during your stay. Leaving your apartment under bad circumstances is like getting fired, and it can haunt your rental and credit histories, making you a less appealing candidate for the next landlord or lender. Each state and many cities have their own tenant organizations, many of which can be found at

We don’t always have control of when we have to move, but there are still ways to exit your lease properly. Know the terms of your agreement and give as much notice as you can and you won’t have to worry about what your landlord says about you when you’re gone.

Hot Tip:  Use your ‘vacate date’ when you call utilities, turn in your change of address form at the post office, or transfer any regular deliveries or subscriptions to a new address.  




About The Author

The Apartment Guide Blog is your premier source for all things apartment related. From your initial search to your next move and everything in between, we’ve got you covered with all the tips, tricks and advice you’re looking for. We also sprinkle in a little industry news like rental trends and city lists from time to time if that’s your thing.

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