In this list of things that have to get done when you PCS, offering your landlord notice of your move out may feel like a small detail. However, it is important to get this detail correct to avoid legal complications for your move.
The last three months or so before a PCS are a classic example of the military’s “hurry up and wait” policy. Often, you are waiting to have orders in hand to schedule the end of your utilities, finalize move dates and let your landlord know when you will be moving out. Whether you live on base or off, it is important to understand the details required by your lease to make your transition out of your current home an easy one!
Failing to provide adequate notice, based on your least and local laws, could result in the loss of your deposit and additional expenses. Military families often deal with the complication of not knowing exactly when they will vacate their home until the last minute. When you plan your PCS, create room in your budget to pay for the full last month you are in the home.
Using the Military Clause to Terminate a Lease
To get out of a housing lease without penalty, you must:
- Provide proof that you signed the lease before you entered active duty, and that you will remain on active duty for at least 90 days.
- Deliver a written notice of your intent to break the lease and a copy of your military orders to your landlord 30 days or less in advance.
Start With Your Lease
It’s probably been a while since you really looked over your lease. Once you know you will be PCSing, take a good look at your lease agreement for any specified terms regarding giving notice. If have an idea of your timeline and have a good relationship with your property manager, you can give your landlord a heads up that you expect to be leaving but emphasize that you do not have a confirmed timeline yet. This early communication is especially helpful if you will move shortly after your lease ends – many property managers will be willing to arrange a month-to-month addendum to cover the overlap.
Know the law
In Washington state, if you don’t give notice before the first of the month, you could be liable for the whole next month. For example, you wanted to give notice to move out on the 15th of the next month, and you give notice on the 15th of the prior month, you would be liable for the entire next month’s rent (two extra weeks you’re not there). There is some protection for military members that need to move because of official orders, but you will need those orders and are still required to communicate with your land lord according to local regulations.
Put It In Writing
Once you have a reasonably firm time line, put your notice in writing – preferably with a computer to eliminate any questions arising from difficult to read hand writing.
Send via certefied mail with return receipt required (make sure you check your lease/contract for specific notice/address requirements and also fulfill those). The last thing you want is for your landlord to say you didn’t give appropriate notice. Most landlords are great, but you want to always cover your tracks and protect yourself.
Maintain A Record
Even after your PCS, keep a file with your important family documents that includes a copy of your lease, your notice to end the lease, and a copy of your move out inspection.
Learn About SCRA
Check the SCRA laws if you are running into short notice. Make a copy of your orders and send along in your certified mail, return receipt required.
Not sure how to word your notice? We’ll get your started with a sample. Remember to include any specified terms mentioned in your lease.
Attention:Your Landlord’s Name/Property Management Company
Your Landlord’s Address
Please accept this written notification that I will be vacating my residence at the address provided below effective MM/DD/YYYY.
(Re-type your address here.)
This notice satisfies the required notice of XX days which was stipulated on my original rental agreement. I will deliver all keys for the property to the business office on or before the date indicated above. I am available to perform a move out inspection from dates your home will be cleared, cleaned and you will still be in the area. I have included a copy of my official orders for your records.
Any refundable deposits owed and follow up correspondence can be sent to:
(Enter your new address or a permanent address here.)
Your New Address
City, State and ZIP Code
Please feel free to contact me by phone if you have any questions at (enter a phone number where your landlord can reach you).
Your Name (typed)