If you've chosen to not renew your lease, you may need to send your landlord or manager a letter explaining your decision. As with all business correspondence, it's important that this letter is written correctly, clearly, and in a respectful manner. Here are some tips for writing a good lease nonrenewal letter.
Review Your Lease
Your lease should contain a clause that tells you what to do if you decide not to renew. A common stipulation in most states like Charlotte, property management companies should be notified by mail at least 30 days before your lease ends. If you don't do this, there is a risk that it may automatically renew, or will convert to a month-to-month agreement. The lease should also tell you where you should send this letter. Usually, this is the same address where you send your rent check.
It's also a good idea to call or email your landlord or property manager to let them know that you'll be sending the lease nonrenewal letter. This gives them a heads-up about your decision and lets them know to look for your correspondence. If you are friendly with your landlord, a personal communication ahead sending a formal business letter is a kind gesture that will likely be appreciated.
If you plan to rent in the future, keep in mind that prospective landlords may want to talk to your current or previous property managers. He or she may be more willing to give you a good reference if you have been consistently respectful, even if you've had conflict in the past. Keep the tone of your letter professional and cordial, and avoid offering a litany of complaints about your home, building, or apartment management. Don't write the letter if you are really upset. Wait until you've cooled down and, even then, ask a friend to read it over before you mail it.
Don't Forget to Find Your Next Rental: To avoid any delays in your moving process, make sure to plan ahead and find the right place for you to move into. You can use rent resources like this example from ABODO to find your ideal apartment or home.
Indicate Move-Out Date
At the beginning of your letter, state the date on which you plan to move out. In most cases, this will be the date that your lease ends, but if you plan to move out a little early let the landlord know.
State Preferences Regarding Showings
In many cases, your landlord will want to rent out your apartment as soon as possible. This means that he or she will probably want to show it to prospective tenants while you are still in the unit. In your letter, set some boundaries on showings. For example, you may want to request 24-hours notice before your landlord bring someone into the apartment, or that you have pets that need to be secured before the apartment is shown. Provide your phone number in the letter so that your landlord or a property manager can get in touch with you about scheduling showings.
Ask for Your Security Deposit
In the final paragraph, ask for the return of your security deposit. You should provide the amount owed as well as an address where your landlord can send the deposit. In most areas, landlords have a certain amount of time, often several weeks, to return your deposit to you. If you do not yet have a new address, ask your landlord to send it to your office, a PO Box, or in care of a trusted friend or relative.
California residents: Renters in California have a right to request a pre-moveout inspection that takes place a couple of weeks before your departure. Abdul Siddiqi, a property manager in Stockton, CA told us "The purpose of this inspection is for your landlord to tell you about any problems in your unit that must be corrected if you are to get all of your security deposit back". You can request this in your lease nonrenewal letter.
Sending the Letter
Make a copy of your letter and send it to your landlord via certified mail, return receipt requested. Also, it is best to take the letter to the post office personally so that you can ask for proof of mailing. You may need this documentation if you later have to prove that you complied with your lease terms.
Final Word and Follow-Up
Above all, keep your lease nonrenewal letter short and to the point. This keeps your message clear and shows respect for your landlord's time. It's also important to follow up on your letter. You can track delivery on the post office website at USPS.com. If you don't hear from your landlord or property manager about your next steps, take the initiative and follow-up yourself by phone or email. Staying proactive helps ensure a smooth move out from your old place, and a quick settling in at your new home.