What is a Notice to Vacate?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A notice to vacate is a formal declaration that someone is expected to leave a residence. It can be filed by a tenant, to indicate that he or she plans to leave by a set date, or it can be filed by a landlord, to indicate that a tenant is expected to leave by a certain date. A number of people use pre-printed legal forms to write out their notices, to ensure that they comply with the law, although it can also take the form of a simple written letter.

Tenants can file a notice to vacate to indicate that they plan to leave by a set date.
Tenants can file a notice to vacate to indicate that they plan to leave by a set date.

Several pieces of information must be included in a notice to vacate. The names of the tenant(s) and the address and unit number (if applicable) of the house are typically near the top of the document, along with the name of the landlord and his or her contact information. The notice is also dated, and it includes a date by which the tenants are expected to leave. A 30-day notice is probably the most common, although it is also possible to see 60 and 90 day notices. Discussion of any rents and security deposits may be included as well, along with information about a move-out inspection, and the reason why the tenant is vacating the property.

A notice of eviction should be posted on the tenant's door.
A notice of eviction should be posted on the tenant's door.

A tenant usually files a notice to vacate when his or her lease is up, and will not be extended. For example, if James Jones rents a house on 1 May 1900 and signs a year lease, and he does not want to continue leaving in the house after that year, he would file a 30 day notice to vacate on 1 April 1901 to indicate that he plans to move out on 1 May 1901, and does not wish to extend the lease. This serves as a formal legal notice, alerting the landlord to the fact that a tenant is leaving.

Landlords typically file a notice to vacate when a tenant has violated the terms of the lease.
Landlords typically file a notice to vacate when a tenant has violated the terms of the lease.

Landlords typically file a notice to vacate when a tenant has violated the terms of a lease, or when the lease will not be extended. Most landlords file a 30 day notice, and it may be the first step in the eviction process. When landlords file this document, they usually hope that the tenants will comply, as evictions are time consuming and expensive, in addition to being irritating to deal with. In the notice to vacate, the reason for the request should be clearly cited.

When a person receives a notice to vacate, as a landlord or a tenant, he or she should take the time to read it over carefully. If the tenant is unclear about anything in the notice, he or she should ask for more information. Tenants are not obliged to reply with a response indicating that they have received the notice, although it can be polite to do so. Many people take the notice as an opportunity to schedule a post move-out inspection, which should fall within 30 days of the move-out, and make sure that the landlord is aware of the fact that any security deposit is expected back within 30 days. Tenants who think that the time period of the notice does not give them enough time to relocate should politely approach the landlord to ask if an extension is possible.

A notice to vacate might be given to a tenant who refuses to properly dispose of garbage.
A notice to vacate might be given to a tenant who refuses to properly dispose of garbage.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@anon328619: I see several different issues coming together to mess up your world. First of all, it would have probably been a good idea to notify a landlord or other housing authority figure before taking an extended vacation. I understand that your personal work/vacation/home schedule is your own business, but if you're going to be away from a rented property for more than a few days, people are going to start to wonder or speculate. Maybe someone could do some housesitting in order to keep the place looking occupied next time.

The second issue is the identity and motive of this "someone" who reported the wrong status to the council. Why would someone report something as major as this without bothering to find out the truth? I have seen houses in my neighborhood with overgrown yards and newspapers piling up on the front step, but I wouldn't necessarily report the owners to the city unless I knew for sure they were gone. The council knows who this person is, so you might want to ask them to have a private conversation to determine why they thought your property was completely and permanently abandoned. It seems like this person is most responsible for putting you in this unfortunate position.

Personally, I think the council should have given you more benefit of the doubt before issuing the notice to vacate. It seems to me that a person who pays for a month's worth of rent has the right to take a 29 day vacation if he or she chooses to. The property still belongs to them whether they are in it or not. The council might have received complaints about overgrown weeds or other evidence of abandonment, but the tenant should be given an opportunity to make improvements first before receiving a notice to vacate.


I have been given a notice to quit my council house as they think I have abandoned my property when in fact, I was on holiday and someone told the council I had left for good. I have yet to get in touch with the council as I want to know first can the notice to quit be canceled and can I stay in the property?

I cannot find any information on this and would like to know my rights before I get in touch with them. Any information on this would be very much appreciated. I only have a short time left before I am supposed to leave. --Donna


I moved from New York City from Florida after the holiday, but decided to move back after a month. My lease still had a few months left, but I was continuing to pay on a monthly basis. I had turned over my keys and vacated the place, but I didn't know that this implied that I was giving the apartment back to them. I wanted someone else to rent it after leaving town and so it was being listed for rent, but I thought I was still the tenant and still had a right to live there.

It turns out that my apartment bldg is now making me reapply as a new tenant and sign for another year at a higher rate in order to get back into my place. Could I take them to court for $685, which is the amount of the application and the increased rent for the next three months?


My tenants lease is due to expire at the end of the month. I sent her a notice of renewal/vacate over a month ago, and she has not replied back in writing. She's in the process of buying a house and wanted to stay month to month but I did not agree to that. She never paid her rent for the month of February. She used her last month's rent fee and never even informed me she was doing that. I have tried to contact her by phone and doesn't answer. I emailed and she said she wanted to stay month to month and I said I couldn't. Never heard back from her. Help! What do I need to do if come the 28th she does not vacate the house?


The place I've been living in has been for sale since I moved in. Every week or so, for the past 10+ months, someone has been in my apartment for a showing. I didn't complain as I wanted the place to sell as much as the real estate company who was selling did. Because once the place was sold then the intrusions would stop.

Well, they sold the apartment and the owner wants my apartment to live in, so I got a 30-day notice to vacate. I immediately went out and found another place to live and let the property managers of the current place know. They informed me that I was responsible for the rent up to the end of the 30 days, even though they are kicking me out through no fault of my own. I was under the impression that if a tenant leaves before the 30 days are up and another tenant is found, a refund should be given. The owner is currently the new tenant.

Shouldn't I be given a refund for the portion of the 30 days that I'm not using?


Our landlord sent us a notice to vacate letter, and they did not renew our lease. My husband worked as the maintenance supervisor there for five years. He left the company and sent his letter of resignation. Two days letter we received the notice to vacate. Our rent was not behind, and we are good residents. They sent it in retaliation for the resignation letter we sent them telling them how bad it was working for them and that we would expose them for some things that happened there.

Can they evict us for no reason? Can they evict us in retaliation for the letter?


In addition to checking your lease agreement for requirements on when and how to file your notice to vacate, also check for any clauses in which you might forfeit your deposit. For example, if you break your lease or fail to give the vacate notice, do you get any of your deposit returned?

My husband and I broke our apartment lease to buy a home and handed over a notice we were vacating in two weeks. Unfortunately we had to pay an additional two month’s rent and forfeit our full deposit; all because we failed to provide the 60 day notice to vacate they required.


It's always a good idea to make sure you file your notice to vacate by the required date if you are a tenant. I've lived in apartment buildings in which a 60-day notice was required, and if the tenant did not file by that deadline, he or she would be charged for each additional day after the lease ends until that 60 days was up.

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