Most landlords will require 30 days' notice of your intention to leave your current property. This applies only if you are in a month-to-month lease arrangement. If you have an existing rental contract that has not expired, you will have to go through a separate process to attempt to break that lease. However, if you are permitted to leave at any point, simply providing notice of your intent to leave will be sufficient to absolve you of your obligation to pay rent to your current landlord.
Step One: Provide Written Notice of Intent
You will need to provide notice of your intent to leave in writing. The letter must be submitted to your landlord at least 30 days prior to the day you wish to move out. Because this date is essential to your legal obligation to pay rent, you should date the letter and keep a copy. It is best to personally deliver this letter to your landlord to assure receipt. At that point, you can also ask any questions you may have. If you mail the letter, be sure to follow up with a phone call to confirm receipt of the letter.
Step Two: Confirm Your Move-Out Date
You should confirm the date you will be leaving in person or over the phone. This is particularly important if the date falls mid-month. Most rental contracts will provide for a pro-rated month if you do not live in the apartment for a full 30 days. Each day costs one-thirtieth of the total rent for the month, so the difference of even a day will cost you money. If you need to allow the landlord time for inspection, then your official move-out date may be pushed back.
Step Three: Review Your Rental Contract
To determine if your rate will be pro-rated, you will need to check your contract. This will also give you information on whether you must allow time to schedule an apartment inspection. It is best to be present during any inspection. Landlords may charge you for damages if you are not present, and you will have no chance to argue. Your contract will also provide you with a checklist for move-out. This will tell you the items you must clean and restore to their original condition. If any damages existed to the property before you moved in, these should have been listed in a checklist, and you can ignore these problems.
Step Four: Return Your Apartment to Its Original Condition
Each state has laws about what constitutes "normal wear and tear" on an apartment. Typically, normal wear and tear cannot be charged to you, while actual damages can be. In order to get your security deposit back in full, you should remove all property from the space and return it to its previous level of cleanliness. You should remove all modifications you made, including any holes in the wall. Many tenants invest in a carpet cleaning or other major projects in order to reduce the sum that will be deducted from their deposit.