Property Management Blog

What Landlords Should Know About Move-Out Letters

Pinnacle Property Management - Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Part of being a landlord is sending a move-out notice to your tenants. While this can be an additional task you don’t look forward to doing, it’s essential and can contribute to your revenue in the long run.

Writing a move-out letter is a way to protect your rental property from holdover tenants. It’s also a way to motivate your current tenants to pay attention to the condition of the rental space before they move out. It also reminds them to leave on the final date. If they receive a reminder before the move-out date, you’re more likely to get a well-maintained unit back that will be easier to market to new tenants. 

Juggling the tasks of cleaning, repairs, creating a rental ad, arranging property showings, and screening prospective renters can take up all your time and energy. This is a common reason for long vacancies. Keep reading to learn more about move-out letters and their importance. 

The Need for a Move-Out Letter

Once a lease ends, both you and the tenants have a choice to end the tenancy. If either party wants to end it, then you can issue a notice. In some states, this is required even if the leasing agreement specifies the lease termination date.

Cropped image of a person with tattoos on their arms studying a book and notes at a table

If your state doesn’t require you to provide a move-out letter, it can still perform a good function by detailing the move-out expectations. This leads to lower chances of conflicts. It also guides the renters on how and when to do the end-of-tenancy cleaning required for move-out inspections.

Tenant turnover can become a source of stress, and issuing a move-out letter can reduce that stress. When a renter ensures that your unit stays in its original condition, you won’t need to spend a lot on repairs. 

Benefits of Sending a Move-Out Letter

Move-out letters are purposeful and offer benefits to the landlord and renter by:

  • Solidifying landlord-tenant relationships: A move-out letter shows good faith and creates a positive atmosphere when a tenant leaves. It sends a message of gratitude to the renter for choosing to be a tenant and following the property policies outlined in the rental agreement.

  • Limiting misunderstandings: A move-out letter keeps things simple by providing the move-out requirements that renters can go over and check off one by one.

  • Providing enough time: A move-out letter allows extra time for the renter to finish off all the things related to moving when its sent with proper notice.

Tips for Creating a Move-Out Letter

Note that move-out letters are not uniform and will be different from one rental to another. It’s best to consult a lawyer or property manager about creating the letter before sending it to the tenant.

Person reviewing a legal document with a pen

Below are tips you can try:

  1. Write down the date of delivery regardless of if it’s sent via email or in person.

  2. Include your contact information.

  3. Inform the renter of the move-out date and provide a reason. If you allow a lease renewal, you can also include the process of renewing and new rent rates, if you plan to adjust it.

  4. Detail final inspection requirements, such as: 

  • Performing a property walk-through with the renter.

  • Required areas to be cleaned up.

  1. List the important dates:

  • Date the renter must move out.

  • Date of the move-out inspection.

  1. Provide instructions on where to leave the keys.

  2. Mention if a property move-out checklist is included.

  3. Write down the details of the security deposit refund: 

  • Be clear on the refund process, including how it’s done.

  • State the expected date for the security deposit return. In California, landlords have 21 days to return all or some of the security deposit.

When to Send a Move-Out Letter

The right time to deliver your move-out letter differs depending on your state and local laws. In California, you need to give the tenants a move-out letter 30 days before the end date if they have a month-to-month lease or have lived in the property for less than a year. If they have lived there for over a year, you need to provide them with 60 days of notice.  

Person sitting and labeling a moving box

Do prior research first to make sure you’re following the correct regulations. You can also consult a legal or real estate professional in your area to be sure of the notice period required for giving a move-out letter to a renter.

The Difference Between a Move-Out Letter and an Eviction Notice

Some may get confused and assume that a move-out letter and an eviction notice are the same. Even if you have several reasons for asking a tenant to move out, the two notices are not the same. 

If you are evicting tenants for breaking the lease agreement and its terms, you have to follow a strict legal process. The eviction notice serves as the introduction to the formal eviction procedure. It lets the renter know that the eviction proceeding will beging if the property concern remains unfixed after a given period of days. Always seek a legal professional’s advice before performing an eviction.

A move-out letter is not the beginning of a lengthy legal process. You are simply providing tenants with proper notice of the end of their lease and their expected move-out date. 

Move-Out Checklist

A move-out checklist outlines the tenant’s duties before they leave your unit. The tasks may differ from one landlord to another, depending on the type of rental space you own. It clarifies expectations so the renters can have a claim on their security deposit. Damages from normal wear and tear shouldn’t be deducted from the deposit.

Person with pink nail polish using a fountain pen to write notes

A move-out checklist can advise the tenant on how to do the following:

  • Perform room cleaning.

  • Get rid of trash.

  • Make sure that the wall paint is in its original shade (won’t apply if the landlord gave approval for the change).

Bottom Line

Drafting a move-out letter may take considerable time but it’s still part of a landlord’s responsibility. If you’re worried about completing this task properly, contact the experts at Pinnacle Property Management. We will help you navigate all aspects of managing your rental property. 

Pinnacle Property Management
CA DRE # 01905815
22700 Crenshaw Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90505
Ph: (310) 530-0606
Fax: (310) 626-9786

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