Whether you’re a tenant or a lаndlord, it’s important to terminate lease contracts the right way.

Doing so ensures that you’re able to avoid incurring extra fees while ending the contract when needed — and also helps you mitigate any legal complications or other risks (such as fines and thrashed apartments, among others).

Obviously, your perspective will be (very) different if you’re a tenant or a landlord, so in this article we’re aiming to provide both sides with enough clarity to be able to break off a lease agreement with the least possible amount of stress and complications.

Using a template for your 30-day notice to vacate helps simplify the entire process and makes it more transparent.

It won’t alleviate every potential bump in the road; however, it will definitely ease a stressful situation.

Let’s now look at the details and intricacies of a 30-day termination notice.

Key takeaways:

  • Both landlords and tenants have rights, responsibilities, and obligations. Always check your lease’s terms and local laws.
  • Tenants have the right to end a lease early, but may need to pay a fee or lose their security deposit; landlords usually need a valid reason to terminate a lease (such as the tenant defaulting on their rent payments).
  • Landlords have legal requirements when conducting eviction proceedings and cannot self-evict a tenant or lock them out of a unit. Most commonly, a sheriff needs to oversee the eviction.
  • The laws and statutes can be very different in each US state, making the entire topic very nuanced and varied. There are some general principles that apply but make sure to also check your local jurisdiction.

What is a notice to vacate?

A notice to vacate is a letter or email sent from one party of a lease agreement to the other (it can go either way), which you can use to notify the other side of your wish to terminate the contract.

For example, if you’re a tenant and you wish to move out, you’ll need to send a written notice to vacate to your landlord to let them know that you’re ending the contract.

If you’re a landlord, typically you need a valid reason to serve a notice to vacate to the other side (i.e., your tenants are failing to respect the rental agreement).

This can often be a stressful moment for both sides, so following a smooth and clear process is essential.

This way, you know what to expect when you need to initiate eviction proceedings (if you’re a landlord) or what you have to do if, as a tenant, you receive an eviction notice.

What about the notice period, though? Is it always 30 days?

A notice to vacate is usually given 30 days before the move-out date — the exact date on which the tenant wishes to move out or that the landlord wishes to end the contract.

Keep in mind, however, that in some US states (such as California or New York), when the landlord is the one who wishes to terminate the contract, they might need to give a 60-day notice, or even a 90-day notice, if the tenant has lived in the rental unit for longer than a specific period of time.

And since these laws can change, always check with government websites to ensure you’re up to date.

Notice to vacate vs. eviction notice: What’s the difference?

Generally speaking, a notice to vacate is a notice given by either side of the lease agreement and is simply a way to notify the other party of an intention to terminate the contract.

An eviction notice is given by the landlord to the tenant, typically in the case of a breach of the lease agreement (a failure to pay rent due or inflicting property damage, for example).

There might be two types of infractions that might lead to an eviction notice:

  • A curable infraction, in which case the tenant could rectify the situation (such as paying the rent due by a specified date, plus any applicable late fees)
  • An incurable infraction, which the tenant cannot rectify

This comparison chart illustrates some of the key differences between 30-day notices and eviction notices:

Notice to vacate Eviction notice
By whom? Voluntary notice given by either the landlord or the tenant. Legal document given by the landlord to the tenant; in many US states, the sheriff needs to deliver the eviction notice.
What’s the purpose? Indicates the intention to terminate the tenancy and vacate the rental property. Notifies the tenant of their breach of the lease agreement and demands rectification or eviction.
What’s the timeframe? Generally given within a specific time frame according to the lease agreement or state laws. Specifies a period within which the tenant must comply or vacate, typically dictated by local laws.
For what reason? Can be initiated for various reasons, such as the end of the lease term, non-renewal of the lease, or voluntary termination by the tenant. Issued when the tenant has violated the terms of the lease, such as non-payment of rent, property damage, or illegal activities.
Does it require a court order? Generally serves as a preliminary step before moving out and is not associated with legal action or the court’s involvement. An eviction notice is served after the landlord has taken legal action, such as filing for eviction proceedings, if the tenant does not comply with the notice to vacate.

If you’re a landlord and need to evict a tenant who is at fault, keep in mind that you cannot:

  • Self-evict the tenant
  • Lock them out of the unit
  • Shut off utility services
  • Take or keep tenant property to cover for your losses
  • Retaliate or discriminate against a tenant

Generally speaking, eviction notices need to be served by the county sheriff and this can happen only after a court order. The sheriff’s department oversees the actual eviction.

How to write a 30-day notice to vacate — the easy way

Terminating a lease agreement is likely a stressful process for both parties, so you need to make sure you handle everything correctly to avoid any fees and additional risks.

The best way to write a 30-day notice to vacate is to use a template, like the ones our experts at PandaDoc have prepared for you. You can use them for free, add your contact information, and adapt them to your specific circumstances.

This way, you can make sure that you’re able to cover all bases and protect your interests — and that you’re not leaving out anything important.

Here are three PandaDoc’s templates you can use, depending on the situation:

Notice to vacate: You can use our notice to vacate template if you’re either a tenant or a landlord. With it, you notify the other side that you wish to end the lease agreement.

Notice of intent to vacate: If you’re a tenant, you can use this notice to let your landlord (or property manager) know that you’re intending to move out.

Eviction notice: If you’re a landlord who wishes to evict a tenant, you can use this eviction notice template to begin the eviction process.

Make sure to state whether their infraction is curable or incurable and also to check your local laws regarding evictions.

When terminating a lease agreement, make sure you’re doing everything correctly

Leases can be terminated before their end date with a notice to vacate — but it’s essential to cover all the basics.

Prepare yourself by knowing your rights and make sure to use the proper template when giving notice.

If you’re a tenant, it’s important to ensure you’re terminating the rental lease the right way to avoid any unnecessary stress or fees — and we’ve got you covered with the above-mentioned templates.

If you’re a landlord or a property manager, you know better than anyone that in real estate, it’s essential to always make sure you’re staying on top of all important docs and due dates — and with a dedicated contract management platform, that task becomes much easier.

PandaDoc has plenty of templates you can use to manage properties the right way and keep everything organized and simple.

Start a free trial or schedule a demo today!

Frequently asked questions

  • A tenant can, in most cases, terminate a lease before its expiration date with a lease termination letter (notice to vacate). The specific termination terms can vary, based on the lease agreement and local laws. Additionally, renters can negotiate the conditions of an early termination of a lease, but everything needs to be in writing and signed by both parties.

  • In general, no. Landlords can terminate a lease if the tenant violates the provisions of the contract; for example, if they fail to pay rent or damage the unit. Additionally, in the case of a home sale, the landlord can also terminate the lease agreement.

  • Tenants’ specific rights vary by state, so make sure you always source accurate information for your state. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has created a database of tenants’ rights by state, which is an excellent starting point.

  • Laws vary by state, so always make sure you rely on official resources/websites from your state government.

  • In general, if you as a tenant break the lease early, the landlord could keep the security deposit. Check the specific terms and conditions of your lease and also local laws (that might override unlawful provisions in a contract). In a month-to-month lease, the landlord needs to give you back your deposit, because you’re not ending the lease early.


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