What you Need to Know about Sending Your Tenants a Notice to Vacate

What you Need to Know about Sending Your Tenants a Notice to Vacate

What you Need to Know about Sending Your Tenants a Notice to Vacate

After all the hard work of advertising your property, holding inspections, screening tenants and getting the lease signed, it is hard to imagine why you would want to give your tenants a Notice to Vacate. However, I can say from experience that reasons do come up.

As bad as it is to receive notice that your tenants are moving out, having to tell them to leave can feel even worse. The process of sending a notice to vacate seems rather formal and complicated. It really isn’t, but it is one of those things where you need to follow all the steps correctly or you will have to start again.

The reason that the notice to vacate procedures are so rigid is to protect both you and the tenant. It goes back to the notion that “every man is king in his own castle”. The house may be your property, but it is the tenant’s home.

What does complicate things just a little (especially when writing these tips) is the fact that every state has their own procedure for the notice to vacate process. Generally, they are all very much the same, but the details will be different for each state.

Are you in a Fixed Term Lease?

Unless the tenants have broken the terms of their fixed term lease (done something wrong), you cannot give a notice to vacate unless the vacate date (move out date) on the notice is after the last day of the fixed term lease.

If your tenants are on a periodic lease (month to month) you can give them notice to vacate just about anytime you please. However, your reason for giving the notice will determine the form and amount of days notice you need to give.

The Reason for the Notice to Vacate

The type of notice you give and the form you need to use will depend upon your reason for giving the notice. For example, in NSW (on a month to month lease) I can give a notice to vacate for no reason at all, but I have to allow 90 days before the tenants have to leave. However, if they are 14 days late in paying the rent I can give them 14 days notice to vacate regardless if they’re on a fixed term lease.

How Should I give the Notice

If the notice to vacate is disputed, the last thing you want to have the tenants claim is “We never received the notice!”

If at all possible, and especially in cases of the rent being late, I prefer to deliver the notice personally. With rent problems (and most breaches), every day that the tenants remain in the house is costing money, so there is little sense in waiting for the postal service. The biggest benefit is that I am 100% sure that the tenants have received the notice. I take two identical copies of the notice with me. After I hand them their copy I will ask them to sign mine as proof that they received it.

Some states specify that the notice to vacate must be sent via registered post. This is actually a good idea; with registered post you will have the proof you sent the notice and the tenants did indeed receive the notice. However, if your state requires the registered post (like Victoria) and you have sent it via normal post, the notice becomes null and void. The tribunal will just throw it out and you will have wasted two weeks or more.

Allow time for Postage

There is a reason we call it snail mail, postal service takes time. This is another reason I prefer hand delivery of the notice, but if you prefer to use the post you must allow time for the delivery to take place. This usually means allowing at least three business days, but be sure to check the rules in your area. For example, in NSW you have to allow four full working days for delivery.

This means that if I want to give 14 days notice, if I post the notice on Tuesday afternoon, the move out day will be the 14th day starting from the following Tuesday!

Ensure you use the Correct Form

There is more to giving proper notice to vacate than sending a letter with “GET OUT” written in big letters. Each state has their own form. Again, the purpose of the form is to protect both you as a property owner and the tenants. You can find the forms on your state’s government website.

Giving notice to vacate doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. Following the guidelines set forth by your states property regulatory body will ensure that everything goes without a hitch.


About Michael Gilbert

Co-founder & Joint CEO of Cubbi. Common Ground.

I started real estate in 2006 on the NSW Central Coast. Loved it but noticed too many owners and tenants were unhappy with the value most agents were giving or simply wanted another option that didn't involve doing it all themselves. That's how Cubbi came about.

  • michaelgilber1
  • Kristy Archibald

    We went through this process late last year and I have to say – using the right forms, ticking all the boxes and following correct process ultimately made life a lot easier when we had to go to court and follow up by having the tenants evicted. It seems ‘officious’ but it can save a lot of grief to get it right the first time. Our tenants stopped paying rent in late October and by following the right steps we had them out by mid-December & new tenants signed up by New Year!

  • michaelgilber1

    Hey Kristy, Thanks for sharing, glad you were able to move on and get tenants in quickly especially with everything happening over the Christmas period.

  • Be sure to get proof that you sent your notice to vacate by sending it certified mail and regular first class mail and keeping a copy for your records.

  • This is the management and system i was looking for in this service, when managing rental properties everything is smooth sailing mostly, right up till, the tenant starts defaulting on the rent, most times it’ not a problem with damage and there is general ware en tare. At that point i’m looking for an online management system step in and to send out (and or print and i hand deliver) the correctly and filled notice to vocate forms and then the VCAT application and preparation for the case etc everything right up till even the eviction with police because it can and does happen to me regularly. I have found from my many times at VCAT that there is only one reason why i need to go there and it’s to get a tenant out with a warrant because they want to stay in the property free and not pay and don’t move out on request. This normally happens when the tenant goes through a bad patch in there life for whatever reason then start making promises to “catch up” on rent but the reality is they never do. I’m not sure where your system offers any of the above but it’s a matter of time and or an idea for you to partner with a solicitor to build this into your site and property management system. I am happy to pay for the service. Or if i have overlooked where this is please direct me to where this does this?

  • michaelgilber1

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you brought that up. I totally agree and it’s coming. Forms based on specific events (like tenants being over 14 days behind in rent) will automatically be created for you to send or hand deliver to your tenants. This will help guide you to do the right thing but also save you heaps of time from having to find and fill out the forms yourself. Thanks again for your feedback Jaffasoft, as a member of rentmyestate you’ll be kept updated as to when this is built.

  • Jo

    We’ve given our tenants in NSW notice of termination because they’re more than 14 days in arrears with rent. They’re refusing us access to show prospective tenants around (and to check for repairs) on the advice of a “tenancy consultant”, who says we’re in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act. Fair Trading have said we’re within our rights and the Act seems to say that too.
    Any idea what they’re argument is (they’ve refused to tell us!)? Could it be that they’re claiming we’re not in the last 14 days of the tenancy because the tenant isn’t going to leave on the due date and plans to make us go to the Tribunal (which we’ve already done!)? Except that still wouldn’t explain refusing access to check for repairs… The tenant now owes $1,200 (5 weeks – mother-in-law agent unfortunately served an invalid first notice!) and its 2 1/2 weeks until Tribunal!

  • michaelgilber1

    Hi Jo. Without knowing the full story it’s hard to know however you just need to make sure the tenants are a FULL 14 days behind in rent taking into consideration rent in advance they have paid (NSW). If the notice was posted you need to allow time for postage plus another 14 days notice you’re giving them. Check this out for more info: http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/Tenants_and_home_owners/Being_a_landlord/Ending_a_tenancy/Giving_a_termination_notice.html Good luck.