Terminating a first time lease

10 Replies

How many days in advance should a tenant give before attempting to terminate a lease?

I'm constructing my first lease and wanted to get your opinion on how much time should be given.

Learn your state landlord tenant codes. It's the law and you need to know it to operate your business.

PA doesn't have any state-laws regarding this. Most people will use 30 days.

Consider how long it will take you to re-rent, but 30 days seems like a good timeframe to me.

Lease terms vary, and so do proper notice period because of lease term length.

Your state landlord tenant laws prevail so download today and be informed.

You may have a landlord association in your state that offers leases for Members to buy. in Minnesota the MMHA Minnesota Multi Housing Association has full line of leases, addendum, lead pamphlets, and classes for landlords to use, it's a great resource.  The lease is honored by the Court systems in MN and is widely used. 

For the non-legal input... we use 60 days; we have found that when we are advertising short of 30 days we tend to get responses from a greater share of persons who "want to move in right away" in other words the quality of our contacts goes down.  Alternatively when we are advertising 45 days out we generally get good candidates who are planning ahead, run their life that same way and are good tenants

@Ryan Schroeder is right. Most people that are not giving their former landlord 60 day notice are not not going to be good tenants for you.

@Ryan Schroeder I agree with your thinking, however, MN law has a clause that if the tenant is required to give a 60-day notice on a lease that is greater than month-to-month then the landlord must give them notice not more than 30 days but less than 15 days before their notice period. If the landlord does not give such notice then the tenant can move out at the end of a lease without notice.

Solution, require 55 or 45 day notice

Here's the law:


Notwithstanding the provisions of any residential lease, in order to enforce any automatic renewal clause of a lease of an original term of two months or more which states, in effect, that the term shall be deemed renewed for a specified additional period of time of two months or more unless the tenant gives notice to the landlord of an intention to quit the premises at the expiration of the term due to expire, the landlord must give notice to the tenant as provided in this section. The notice must be in writing and direct the tenant's attention to the automatic renewal provision of the lease. The notice must be served personally or mailed by certified mail at least 15 days, but not more than 30 days prior to the time that the tenant is required to furnish notice of an intention to quit.



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Do you mean at the end of the lease, how many days should the tenant give regarding on-renewal? I do 30 days.  I usually write my tenants a note at 45-60 days asking them if they will renew and give them what the new rent will be if it is increasing. 

or are you talking about a lease cancellation clause?  You dont necessarily need to allow them to break the lease- (You can't break it on your end)  unless you are putting in there a lease cancellation fee. 


Thanks for the legal citation.  I find after doing this for 30 years I still am continually learning new, and sometimes not new (but I was just unaware) things. However, I don't use an automatic renewal clause; my leases are fixed term, no automatic without both parties in agreement (I don't recall the exact language).  As Christine noted, I also give tenants notice.  If I have no intention of a renewal I give them 60 days or better of the non-renewal.  That does not happen very often.  Alternatively I'll offer a new lease at whatever dollar/term (of conditions) change and ask them to sign acceptance of the new terms by a simple one page affirmation.  Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.

If you are in a tenancy-at-will market, keep in mind that the longer you have to market your property at the end of the tenancy, the more leverage you will have with new prospective tenants.

I'm a broker in MA. Here, the law for tenancy-at-will agreements is that the minimum amount of notice that needs to be given is 30 days. But only market conditions determine if you can get a tenant to agree to a lengthier notice period.

I advise TAW landlord to go for a minimum of 60 days. This gives them an opportunity to not only be more selective of the clientele, but to also trial a higher asking rent.

Of course, TAW in my markets is rare---almost every signs a 12 month lease here, usually fixed term leases, and they write into the agreement a date by which the tenant must notify the landlord if they intend to renew the lease. For these periods again 60 day minimum but 90 days preferred.

The most extreme example of this is the Boston student apartment market---the renewal period begins at least 9 months in advance of the expiration. They moved in Sept 1 and by Dec they have to know if they want to stay another year starting next Sept or risk losing the apartment.

One person here said it's important to know your state housing laws---this is true. But equally important is to know your local market conditions. You should talk to local brokers, property managers, and other landlords and measure out their practices. You'll need to know what the demand for your location is as well as the motivations of your target clientele to really be able to answer your question without leaving any money on the table.

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