While no specific state requires a “move-out letter” be used, it is strongly suggested that you mail one to your tenant approximately 30 days prior to the lease terminating or whenever they are scheduled to move.
The purpose of this letter is to keep the landlord-tenant relationship on good terms and to deter (as best as possible) any future disputes, by directly addressing the following three topics:
1. Cleaning Requirements: A reminder should be included as to what requirements were specified in the original lease agreement and/or are reasonably expected of the tenant to ensure that they leave the property in essentially the same condition it was in the day they moved in, excepting normal wear and tear. Common issues – as well as the definition of “normal wear and tear” – will be discussed at length later in this chapter.
2. Contact Information for Inspection: You should include how and when you are to be contacted so that you can be called to assess the property’s condition – See the following inspection section for particular requirements by your individual state.
3. How and When the Deposit Will Be Returned: In order to avoid dealing with impatient tenants and the amassing of unnecessary animosity, your move-out letter ought to tell the tenant how and when they can expect to be notified about the returning of their security deposit. Information given in the letter must adhere to the requirements of your state, which will be discussed later in this chapter.
As with any type of correspondence between yourself and your tenant, specific choice of language should be used to maintain a continuous state of professionalism – these letters should never be inflammatory, accusatory or disparaging, regardless of how the tenant chooses to conduct themselves. You never want to appear anything less than thoroughly upstanding and respectful in the eyes of the law – thereby reducing your chances of unintentionally handing a tenant the opportunity to take legal action against you for something you said.
Once you have clearly addressed the three primary points of concern, always thank the tenant for their stay. It doesn’t matter what the situation is – or has been. It is critical for you to end your letter in a cordial manner – whatever your true feelings may be about their tenancy. Even if the letter appears to be merely a standard form letter with the blanks filled in, a simple sentence thanking the tenant for their stay would suffice.