Evicting Tenants: 5 Must-Haves to Include in a 30-Day Notice to Vacate
If you’ve been working in real estate for any amount of time, you know what the 30-day Notice to Vacate form is. This is a legal form or letter that either a tenant or landlord can use to stipulate the time in which tenancy is ending. This is done as a matter of course for most apartments and rental properties and only requires specific dates of the tenant’s intent to move out within the next 30 days.
However, what about when a landlord or property manager wants to evict a bad tenant or simply terminate renting to a particular tenant, for whatever reason? How do you send a 30-day notice to vacate to a tenant? What does state law say about if it is legal to do so? And what are the must-haves you need to include in the notice?
First, you must have a valid, legal reason to want to present your tenant with a notice to vacate. This could be something as simple as their being on a month-to-month contract and you want to rent the property to someone who is willing to sign a longer lease. Or perhaps their one-year lease is up, and you intend to sell the property instead of continuing to rent it out. In cases such as this the landlord must follow all laws and regulations by notifying the tenants by letter and giving them adequate time to secure a new apartment or property. A notice to vacate may also be necessary if your tenants are not taking proper care of the property or are in violation of your original lease agreement. As long as your reasons are legal and legitimate, as landlord you can send the tenants a 30-day notice to vacate.
You must determine if your tenant has a standard lease or a month-to-month lease. A standard lease is a fixed term, usually six months or one year, that cannot end early and the agreement cannot be changed once signed. A month-to-month lease, on the other hand, renews every month (known as “tenancy-at-will”) and can be changed or terminated with the proper notice that should be spelled out in the initial agreement. Also look at the laws regarding rental agreements and notice to vacate for your particular state. Every state will have different requirements that you will need to heed. Some states may only require a 30 days’ notice, while others may require a different length of time.
When tenants hand in their 30-day notice to vacate, they must include the following information in their notice:
- Both parties – the tenant and the landlord – must be named specifically in a notice to vacate. The tenant submitting the letter must be the same person who rented the apartment or property originally who is named on the lease. Someone’s spouse or roommate who is NOT on the lease cannot submit a notice to vacate letter to you.
- The agreed-upon time frame of the original lease must be specified. Rental agreements are usually for a period of one year, unless a different amount of time was agreed upon between the two parties, or it is set up as a month-to-month lease. Whatever the arrangement is should be spelled out in the notice.
- The dates in question must all be listed in the notice to vacate: the original date of signing, the move-in date, what the move-out date will be, and by what date all belongings will be removed from the property.
When a landlord sends a 30-day notice to vacate to the tenant, this notice must include all of the above information as well as the following elements:
- Possible outcomes if tenants choose to ignore the 30-day notice to vacate (usually eviction proceedings if the tenant refuses to surrender the property) and the condition you expect the rental property to be left in when the tenant vacates. Include information regarding the final inspection procedures and when to turn the keys back in if this isn’t specified in the initial rental agreement.
- Notification that the security deposit will only be returned if the property is in a certain condition, usually specified in the original lease agreement. It’s also a good idea to request the tenant’s forwarding address if possible, to know where to send the security deposit refund if they are due one.
If you have these five elements included in your 30-day notice to vacate, then the process will go a lot smoother and have a better outcome. One way to avoid this need in the first place is to perform a diligent tenant screening before you rent your property to any prospective tenant. Solving the issue of finding good tenants is a lot easier at the renting end than at the eviction end. But if it comes to termination, a well composed 30-day notice to vacate is one of the necessary tools.