Lease Non-Renewals: Essential Guide for Landlords

What is a Lease Non-Renewal?

A lease non-renewal refers to the decision by either the tenant or landlord to terminate an existing rental agreement at the end of the lease term. It means that neither party intends to extend or renew the lease for an additional rental period. This is different from breaking a lease, which involves prematurely terminating the agreement before the end of the contracted term.

When a lease is not renewed, the rental contract simply expires on the specified end date. The tenant is then required to vacate the rental property by that date unless a new lease is signed. A non-renewal allows the lease to run its full course without penalty, as opposed to breaking a lease early which could incur fees or forfeit of the security deposit.

Why Draft a Non-Renewal Letter?

Drafting a non-renewal letter is an important step for both tenants and landlords who do not wish to continue a lease agreement after the current term expires. There are several key reasons to provide written notice of non-renewal:

1. Avoid Automatic Lease Renewal: 

Many lease agreements contain clauses that automatically renew the lease for another term (often 12 months) if neither party provides notice of non-renewal. Sending a formal letter prevents this automatic renewal from occurring.

2. Notify Tenant/Landlord of Intentions: 

A non-renewal letter clearly communicates your plans to vacate the property or re-list the unit for new tenants after the current lease ends. This notification helps both parties prepare and plan accordingly.  

3. Start the Moving Process Early: 

For tenants not renewing, the non-renewal letter marks the official start of the moving process. It allows you to provide adequate notice, begin searching for a new home, and prepare for the transition well in advance of the lease termination date.

By drafting and delivering a timely non-renewal letter, both landlords and tenants can avoid miscommunication, legal issues, and ensure a smooth process when concluding a lease agreement as intended.

How Much Notice is Required for Non-Renewal?

The notice period required for not renewing a lease varies by state and is often specified in the original lease agreement. Most states require 30-60 days' notice from either the tenant or landlord before the lease expires. However, notice requirements can range from as little as 20 days to as much as 90 days or more.

It's crucial to check your local landlord-tenant laws and review your lease's specific terms regarding the non-renewal notice timeline. Many standard leases stipulate a notice window, such as providing notice 60 days before the end of the lease term. If the lease doesn't mention a notice period, most states have default timelines that landlords and tenants must follow.

For example, in California, landlords must give 60 days' notice to tenants if they don't plan to renew the lease. In contrast, tenants in New York only need to provide 30 days' notice before the lease expires. Always verify the precise notice requirements in your area to ensure you provide sufficient notice and avoid potential legal issues or penalties.

How to Write a Non-Renewal Letter

When drafting a non-renewal of lease letter, it's important to be clear, direct, and professional. The letter should state your intent not to renew the lease in an unambiguous way. Use a straightforward statement like "This letter is to inform you that I do not intend to renew the lease for [address] after the current term ends on [date]."

Be sure to provide the proper notice timeline as required by your state laws and lease agreement. Most standard leases require 30-60 days notice before the lease expires. Reference the specific notice period in your letter, such as "Per the terms of the lease, I am providing [X] days notice before the end of the current term on [date]."

Throughout the letter, maintain a cordial and professional tone. Avoid accusatory language or listing grievances. A simple statement of your non-renewal is sufficient. End on a positive note by thanking the landlord and affirming your intent to leave the property in good condition. Being courteous and following the agreed notice procedures is beneficial for all parties.

Essential Sections for a Non-Renewal Letter

A non-renewal of lease letter should contain the following key sections:

Header with Date and Addresses

The letter should begin with a header that includes the current date as well as the addresses of both the tenant/landlord sending the letter and the recipient.

Notice of Non-Renewal Statement

This is the core of the letter, where you clearly state your intention to not renew the lease agreement. Use straightforward language like "This letter is to inform you that I will not be renewing the lease for [property address] after the current term ends on [date]."

Reason for Non-Renewal (Optional)

While not required, you may choose to provide a brief reason for why you are not renewing, such as relocating for a new job, a desire for a larger space, etc. Keep this succinct.

Notice Timeline/Deadline

Specify the date by which you need to vacate the property according to the notice requirements in your lease agreement and state laws. For example, "As per the terms of the lease, I will vacate the premises no later than [date]."


Conclude with a polite sign-off line, followed by your printed name and signature if mailing a hard copy letter. For example, "Thank you for your understanding. Sincerely, [Your Name]"

Sample Non-Renewal Letters

Tenant Sample Letter

Dear [Landlord's Name],

This letter is to formally notify you that I will not be renewing my lease for the rental property located at [Your Address] after the expiration date of [Current Lease End Date]. As per the terms of my lease agreement, I am providing [Notice Period] notice of my intent to vacate the premises.

I appreciate your professionalism during my tenancy. Please let me know if you need any further information from me regarding the move-out process and return of keys. I'll be sure to leave the property in the same condition as when I moved in, apart from normal wear and tear.

Thank you for your understanding.


[Your Name]  

Landlord Sample Letter  

Dear [Tenant's Name],

We regret to inform you that we will not be renewing your lease for the rental unit at [Property Address] after the current lease term ends on [Lease End Date]. As required by your lease agreement and state laws, we are providing you with [Notice Period] notice to vacate the premises.

During the remainder of your tenancy, we request that you continue to abide by all terms of the lease, including timely rental payments and properly maintaining the unit. An inspection will be scheduled closer to your move-out date to assess any damages beyond normal wear and tear.

Please make arrangements to have all your belongings removed and keys returned to our office by [Vacate Date]. Your security deposit will be processed and any refundable amount will be returned within [Deposit Return Period] after you vacate per state laws.

Thank you for your cooperation during this transition period.  


[Your Name/Company]

Property Manager  

Templates and Examples

[Include 1-2 templates or additional examples of non-renewal letters that tenants or landlords can use as a starting point when drafting their own letter.]

Delivering the Non-Renewal Notice

There are a few options for properly delivering a non-renewal of lease notice to your landlord or tenant. The delivery method you choose can impact whether the notice is considered legally valid.

In Person Delivery: 

You can hand-deliver the non-renewal letter directly to the other party or an authorized representative. Get a signed acknowledgment of receipt. This is often the most straightforward approach but can be difficult if the other party is uncooperative.

Certified Mail: 

Send the non-renewal letter via certified mail with a return receipt requested. This provides proof of delivery with a mailing date. However, the other party may refuse delivery. Some states require using certified mail specifically.

Email or Portal Notice: 

If allowed by your lease terms, you may be able to email the notice or submit it through an online tenant/landlord portal. This is convenient but you'll need to get a read receipt or acknowledgment. Not all locations consider email to be legally valid notice.

Get Delivery Confirmation: 

Whichever method you use, always get proof that the notice was successfully delivered and keep that documentation. A confirmation of delivery can be crucial evidence if there are any disputes over whether proper notice was given.

Following the exact notice delivery requirements in your lease agreement and your state's laws is essential. If done incorrectly, your non-renewal attempt may not be considered valid.

Next Steps After Sending Notice

After properly delivering your non-renewal of lease letter, there are several important next steps to take:

Begin Looking for a New Place/Tenant

If you are the tenant, start your search for a new rental home or apartment immediately. The housing market can be competitive, so giving yourself ample time is crucial. If you are the landlord, you'll want to list the unit, screen applicants, and find a new tenant to take over the property. 

Coordinate Move-Out Inspection

Schedule a walk-through inspection with your landlord prior to your move-out date. This allows you to identify any damages beyond normal wear and tear that need to be remedied before vacating. As the tenant, you want to avoid charges being deducted from your security deposit improperly.

Return of Security Deposit

Your lease agreement should specify the timeline and requirements for the return of your security deposit after move-out. Make sure to provide your landlord with a forwarding address in writing. The landlord has a set period of time to return the full deposit if no deductions are needed, or provide an itemized list of any legal, reasonable deductions taken from it.

Protecting Your Rights

When navigating the lease non-renewal process, it's crucial to protect your rights as a tenant or landlord. Document all communications, including letters, emails, and any verbal discussions, to create a clear record. Refer back to your original lease agreement, as it should outline the specific requirements and protocols for non-renewal notices. If any disputes or concerns arise, don't hesitate to seek legal counsel to ensure your rights are upheld and the proper procedures are followed. An attorney can review your situation, advise you on the applicable laws in your area, and represent you if needed.


Can a landlord refuse to renew a lease in California?

Yes, in California landlords have the right to not renew a lease and terminate the tenancy at the end of the lease term. However, they must provide proper written notice as required by state law and cannot refuse to renew as a form of retaliation or discrimination against the tenant.

How much notice does a landlord need to give for non-renewal?

The amount of notice required for a landlord to not renew a lease varies by state, but generally ranges from 30-90 days. In California, landlords must give at least 60 days notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy. For a fixed-term lease, they must notify the tenant within a window of time specified in the lease agreement, often 30-90 days before the lease expires.

What to include in a non-renewal letter to tenant?

A non-renewal letter to a tenant should clearly state the landlord's intent to not renew the lease when it expires. It should provide the specific date the tenancy will end after the required notice period. The letter should refer to the applicable terms in the original lease agreement and remind the tenant of their obligations, like leaving the property in good condition.

How do I notify my landlord I am not renewing my lease?

To notify your landlord you are not renewing your lease, you should send a written letter stating your intent. Include the date you plan to vacate at the end of the lease term. Refer to the notice requirements and any other terms about non-renewal laid out in your original lease agreement. Ideally, give this notice 30-60 days before your lease expires. Send the letter by certified mail so you have proof of delivery.

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