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Legal How-To: Giving Your Landlord Written Notice of Move-Out

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on October 07, 2014 8:58 AM

Breaking up is hard to do, and you may be clueless about how to break it to your landlord that you're moving out.

Unlike breaking up with your latest fling, there's actually a great semi-formal method of calling it quits with your tenancy: a move-out letter. By sending your landlord a letter, you can clearly announce your intention to move and highlight your rights and responsibilities before you do.

Don't know where to start? Here's a quick how-to on giving your landlord written notice of your move-out:

1. Be Clear About Your Move.

Just like when ending a romantic relationship, you don't want to waffle or give the other party some reason to doubt the message you're communicating. Don't write that you're "thinking about" or "considering" moving out. Be very blunt in the beginning of your letter that you are moving out on a specific date.

Your lease may require you to send this letter to your landlord before deciding not to renew, or require that you give notice 30 days ahead of your move. So make sure to review it.

2. Explain Your Move (If You Want To).

You don't have to tell your boss why you're quitting or your ex why you dumped him or her, so it doesn't really matter if you tell your landlord why you're moving out. It may be legally relevant if you're still locked into a year-long lease to explain why you're leaving before the term of the lease is over.

Explaining that dangerous conditions in the apartment are what caused you to move out may dissuade your landlord from suing you over breaking your lease.

3. Include a Reminder About Your Security Deposit.

Although your move-out letter should help you cut ties with your landlord, you still want to remind him or her of the remaining obligation to refund your security deposit. Highlight that the rental unit is in the same condition as when you moved in, if not better, and cite any state or local laws on the deadlines for getting you your check.

Depending on these laws, you may be even entitled to interest on your deposit.

If you need help formatting your letter, FindLaw's section on Landlord-Tenant Law has two sample move-out letters to get you started.

Are you facing a legal issue you'd like to handle on your own? Suggest a topic for our Legal How-To series by sending us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #HowTo.

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