Review Your Lease
Your lease likely contains information on how and when you should contact your landlord before terminating your tenancy. The lease may specify time frames for mailing off your letter, as well as the address to which you need to send your termination notice. If you have any questions about the termination process, call your landlord or property manager.
State Your Reason for Leaving and Move-Out Date
Briefly and respectfully explain why you are leaving. If you have a month-to-month tenancy or aren't renewing your lease, say so. If you are terminating a lease early because of habitability issues, military service, or a special provision in your lease, state this in the letter and cite either the lease clause or the law that gives you the right to early termination. Include the date that you plan to move out.
Request Security Deposit Refund
If you paid a security deposit, request to receive a refund after you leave the property. Give the landlord your contact information so that he knows where to send your check.
Request any Move-Out Procedures
If your lease doesn't include information about move-out procedures, such as scheduling a move-out inspection or turning in your keys, ask the landlord to contact you. In California, you are legally entitled as a tenant to request an "initial inspection" so your landlord can let you know if there is anything about your home's condition that would result in a security deposit deduction. Your landlord cannot require you to go through an initial inspection; you, as the tenant, must request it.
Address and Mail the Letter
Double check your landlord's address and make sure it is correct on the envelope. As with many important letters, it's a good idea to send your termination letter via certified mail. This allows you to track the delivery of your letter and to prove that you mailed it out in advance of the deadline established by your lease. Following up with a phone call or face-to-face conversation is also a good idea, as it ensures that your landlord understands your intention to move.