The automatic month-to-month renewal provision is common in lease agreements, and it takes effect until the landlord or tenant gives notice that the lease is not being renewed.

Usually, a landlord will inform a tenant in writing that the existing lease will not be extended. This letter is known as a lease non-renewal letter.

We'll discuss the main advantages of sending a lease non-renewal letter to a tenant, along with tips on how to write one and links to a free template that can be downloaded on DoorLoop.

What Is a Lease Non-renewal Letter?

A non-renewal of lease letter can be sent by either the landlord or the tenant. It is a written notice informing the other party that you do not wish to renew the current lease.

This letter also contains information regarding the return of the security deposit, move-out instructions, the last rent payment of the existing lease, etc.

Furthermore, a lease non-renewal letter is also known as a notice not to renew a lease, a lease termination letter, a notice or intent to vacate, or a non-renewal of lease letter, according to the customs of the local real estate market.

This letter is sent to the other party before the lease expiration date. Typically, a lease non-renewal letter is delivered 60 days prior to the lease's expiration date.

However, depending on the terms of the lease and the state's landlord-tenant laws where the property is located, the precise number of days prior to the end of a lease that a non-renewal letter must be issued varies.

If the letter isn't sent with sufficient notice the landlord might be in violation of state and local housing laws and face possible penalties.

Generally speaking, even if the lease does not expressly call for the notice, a landlord will send a tenant a letter notifying them that their lease will not be renewed.

Does a Landlord Need a Reason for Not Renewing the Lease?

No, you don't. A landlord can have any reason for not renewing the lease at the end of the lease's term.

However, there are a few exceptions, such as:

  1. Discrimination
  2. Retaliation
  3. Local public housing authority

Therefore, if a landlord fails to renew a lease agreement for one of the above mentioned reasons, they may be liable for fines and penalties or a potential lawsuit from the tenant.

What Are the Most Common Reasons for a Landlord Not Renewing the Lease?

common reasons to not renew lease

Landlords may choose not to renew the tenant's lease for a variety of reasons, such as:

  1. The tenant constantly has maintenance requests, often for small things such as a squeaking door or scratch on the floor.
  2. The lessee constantly tries to take advantage of the landlord by making late rental payments or paying just before the end of the grace period.
  3. A tenant's overnight visitors eventually become secret subtenants, but the lessee won't acknowledge that people who aren't on the lease are living there.
  4. The tenant constantly causes damage to the property that extends beyond normal wear and tear, such as breaking windows or backing up into the garage door.
  5. If the landlord's decision not to renew the lease with the current tenant does not conflict with federal, state, or local housing rules, and they simply want to rent the property to someone else.
  6. The current property owner has decided to sell the house to an interested buyer.

When Do You Need to Send a Notice of Non-renewal?

When it comes to fixed-term leases, if a minimum period of time is needed to submit an official notice of non-renewal of lease, it should be included in the lease agreement.

Unless the contract specifies otherwise, failure to provide the notice by the deadline will result in the tenancy becoming month-to-month.

A not renewing lease letter is highly advised, even if it is not necessary. This gives the tenant some time to look for new housing.

The renter's reaction will also reveal if the tenant intends to cooperate or if you need to take further legal action.

How to Send a Lease Non-renewal Letter

The majority of lease agreements will outline the appropriate channels for correspondence between the landlord and tenant.

However, the best way to deliver a notice is to send one that necessitates a signature confirmation to show that it was received.

You can do this by sending the notice by certified mail or restricted certified mail, which only allows the renter to sign for the document.

The delivery method and any other pertinent information should be noted on a copy of this notification that the landlord keeps on file.

What Happens Once the Lease Letter of Non-renewal Is Sent?

Once you've sent a non-renewal lease letter to your current tenant, one of two things can happen:

  1. Holdover tenant
  2. The tenant acknowledges the notice and vacates the rental property

Let's look at these in further detail:

Holdover Tenant

Landlords have the right to start the eviction process if a tenant refuses to leave the property.

A good place to start when evicting a lingering tenant is the fact that you have records of communication informing the occupant of your decision not to renew the lease.

Don't accept any rent payments if you want to carry on with the eviction process.

If payment is accepted, your right to eviction can be waived, and the tenant might be regarded as holding a month-to-month lease.

The Tenant Acknowledges the Lease Non-renewal Letter and Vacates the Premises

This is obviously the best-case scenario. The tenant will typically acknowledge the notice and prepare to vacate in accordance with the move-out and lease instructions.

Based on these instructions, the property owner can get in touch with the lessee to wrap up the transaction.

Generally, these move-out instructions contain the following:

  1. Returning the keys of the rental unit.
  2. Cleaning the rental property.
  3. Repairs relating to damages beyond normal wear and tear.
  4. Returning the security deposit.
  5. Landlord inspection.

If you're planning on renting out the unit again, you'll need to start planning and preparing for new tenants.

This process includes:

  • Making repairs.
  • Screening prospective tenants.
  • Advertising.
  • Staging the rental property.

How to Write a Lease Non-renewal Letter

what to include in a lease non renewal letter

Your letter needs to include various information, including:

  1. Landlord's name and contact details.
  2. Landlord's signature.
  3. The date on which the letter is sent.
  4. Tenant's name and contact details.
  5. Rental property's address and unit number.
  6. The date on which the final rent payment is due.
  7. Move-out instructions.
  8. The tenant's current lease requirements.
  9. The current lease's expiration date.
  10. A reference to the current lease agreement.
  11. Reason for non-renewal of lease. (Not compulsory)
  12. Tenant's acknowledgment.
  13. Deadline for the lessee's response.
  14. The return deposit and security deposit amount.

State Laws on Lease Non-renewal Notices

Often, there is no provision in the lease agreement describing how to cancel a lease if it has expired and is on a month-to-month basis.

A landlord may have a deadline for sending the notice, based on the state. Landlords must adhere to these deadlines to prevent further delays. 

The following list indicates the various state's requirements for notice of non-renewal of lease agreements:

  • Arizona - 30 days
  • Alabama - 30 days
  • Arkansas - 30 days
  • Alaska - 30 days
  • Connecticut - 3 days
  • Colorado - 21 days
  • California - 30 days
  • Delaware - 60 days
  • Florida - 15 days
  • Georgia - 60 days
  • Hawaii - 45 days
  • Illinois - 30 days
  • Idaho - 30 days
  • Iowa - 30 days
  • Indiana - 30 days
  • Kentucky - 30 days
  • Kansas - 30 days
  • Louisiana - 10 days
  • Maryland - 60 days
  • Maine - 30 days
  • Massachusetts - The longer of 30 days or the interval between the days or rent payment
  • Mississippi - 30 days
  • Minnesota - The lesser of three months or the interval between the time rent is due
  • Michigan - One month
  • Montana - 30 days
  • Missouri - One month
  • Nevada - 30 days
  • Nebraska - 30 days
  • New Jersey - One month
  • New Hampshire - 30 days
  • New York - 30 to 90 days, depending on the length of the lease
  • New Mexico - 30 days
  • North Dakota - One month
  • North Carolina - 7 days
  • Ohio - 30 days
  • Oregon - Between 30 and 90 days, depending on the length of the lease
  • Oklahoma - 30 days
  • Pennsylvania - 15 days
  • Rhode Island - 30 days
  • South Dakota - One month
  • South Carolina - 30 days
  • Texas - One month
  • Tennessee - 30 days
  • Utah - 15 days
  • Virginia - 30 days
  • Vermont - 30 days
  • Washington D.C. - 30 days
  • Washington - 20 days
  • Wyoming - No statute
  • Wisconsin - 28 days
  • West Virginia - One month

A notice of non-renewal of lease should still be issued even if your lease or state law doesn't specify a deadline.

It is generally advised to give at least 60 days' notice.

Can a Tenant Decide Not to Renew the Lease?

In most real estate markets, there is a high demand from tenants for quality rental homes, but it's also possible that a tenant won't choose to renew a lease.

A tenant might opt not to renew a lease, for instance, if they need more (or less) space, are relocating to a different city or state, or both.

If a tenant decides not the renew a lease, you can do any of the following:

  • Ask the tenant to sign a non-renewal letter.
  • Ensure that the tenant is giving you sufficient notice of non-renewal.
  • Ask the tenant to send you a non-renewal letter.

The Final Verdict

As you can see, a non-renewal of lease letter is a crucial document for landlords that don't want to renew an existing lease agreement for whatever reason.

From the return of the security deposit to move-out instructions, this written notice contains comprehensive details.

If you're looking for a non-renewing lease letter sample, DoorLoop has just what you're looking for. We provide a wide range of free forms and templates to ensure that you manage your rental units effectively.


What Are the Benefits of Writing a Not Renewing Lease Letter?

Some of the most common benefits of a not renewing lease letter are:

  • Ensures that the current tenant will vacate the premises in a timely manner so that the landlord can quickly prepare to rent the property to new occupants.
  • It helps the landlord to avoid potential conflict with the tenant.
  • This produces a record of timely communication in case the tenant refuses to leave the premises and the landlord needs to initiate the eviction process.

What Happens If the Landlord Fails to Give Notice of Non-renewal of Lease?

A one-year lease will change into a month-to-month lease if you do not provide written notice that it will not be renewed.

Until either the landlord or tenant decides to terminate the rental agreement, the lessee will keep paying rent every month.

This means that the lessee or property owner can terminate the lease with a 30-days notice. After this period, neither party is required to provide a reason for the termination.

Communication is vital throughout this process, especially if the tenant doesn't want to terminate the lease but the landlord does.

Since they are probably more familiar with the procedure than the tenants are, landlords should outline it and mention relevant state laws.

Landlords who want their tenants to leave should not accept rent or agree to any new lease conditions after the initial term.

These actions will be seen by the court as a default extension of the initial lease, which is now month-to-month.

How Do I Get a Non-renewal Lease Letter?

Many landlords who need a notice of non-renewal generally go to an attorney, but doing so can be highly costly and time-consuming.

It is preferable to write your document with enough time to give proper notice and with every important detail covered in order to prevent squatters and holdout tenants.

To avoid long lines and expensive legal fees, download our free non-renewal lease letter template.

How Long Can the Tenant Stay on the Property without Renewing the Lease Agreement?

A tenant may continue to reside in a rental unit without signing a lease renewal. The majority of state rental regulations advise that contracts that have ended immediately become month-to-month tenancies with the same terms as the original lease.

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!