Dear PoPville – 30 Day Vacancy Notice Question

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“Dear PoPville,

My roomate and I have found an apartment we would like to move to. We currently live in a managed apartment building and are going month to month right now. We thought that you could give a 30 day notice to vacate on any day, and then we would pay a prorated amount of rent for the following month until the 30 days were up. They tell us that the 30 day vacancy notice is only accepted on the first of the month. Do you guys know if that’s legal? I can’t seem to find a clear answer while searching online.”

26 Comment

  • See your rental agreement.

    I rent out a room in my house and use the standard DC rental agreement (found online somewhere at the .gov website for dc), and it does not have any wording about the first of the month. Whatever you signed states whatever you need to know.

  • Best mug ever. GO BLUE!!

  • This is a question of DC law, regardless of what the rental agreement says or doesn’t say. There’s definitely no required pro-rating, because the whole point of a month-to-month lease is that the leasehold extends a whole month at a time if it extends at all. I believe you owe them 30 days notice before the *beginning* of the the month at the *end of which* you want the lease to terminate. So effectively a notice 60 days before you want to leave. Need someone to confirm though. It’s been a long time since I had o deal with this myself.

    • ah

      And if DC law is silent on the point, which it is, your lease will control.

      A month-to-month lease usually creates an actual monthly lease effective one the year (or more) term expires, so that means you are locked in for the full month once you restart it each month (which could be the 1st, 10th, 19th, whatever).

      It doesn’t really make sense to say that notice is “accepted” on the first of the month, but what I assume that means is that you can tell them at any point during a month, but that notification is that the following month will be your last month.

      Have you tried negotiating with them? It could be in their interest to have you out before the end of the month, which would allow them to fix it and show it, and potentially rent it, before the beginning of the following month.

      • Pretty much what Ah said.

        Month-to-month means in units of a month and is the default period for a year long lease that has since expired. In effect it means that each month the tenant and landlord have entered into an agreement to abide by the same terms that were in the lease. Just as you couldn’t get out of the initial year term before it was up (without landlord’s permission), you now cannot get out of the month term without the landlord’s permission.

        Therefore, if you have to give 30 days notice, that means you have to give 30 days notice before the end of a period. If your original lease began on the first of a month, that means you need to give 30 days notice by the end of the month–ie by the first. The lease cannot end in the middle of a period. Looked at another way, your check on 9/1 was your agreement to stay until 9/30–therefore the 30 days you are committing to in order to give notice are now 10/1 to 10/30.

        So in effect the landlord gave you the answer without the rationale. The result of your lease date is that you have to give notice by the first in order to end a lease at the end of that month. Whether you gave notice on the 5th of September or the 30th of September, the earliest you could move out without permission would be the end of October. The landlord may prefer only to accept notice on the first, for ease of keeping track, but that isn’t actually something they can enforce. (Although to cover your butt, you’d better be sure you can prove notice if they lose it since it didn’t come on the day they expect it.)

        And, of course, with any legal document, the lease overrides any defaults (unless the lease proposes something illegal. Which I’ve actually seen.)

        • In other words:

          OP hopes lease is day-to-day, with 30 days’ notice to vacate.

          Lease is at best month-to-month, with 30 days’ notice to vacate.

          All leases in DC turn into month-to-month at the end of their term, unless renewed with a new contract. Most likely, OP is month to month, unless lease stipulates day-to-day or a longer term.

      • DC law is decidedly not silenton this point. It is arguably the cornerstone of DC’s landlord-tenant law.


    all your answers are right here. there is also the dc law students in court resource center at landlord-tenant court. they are friendly and will answer your questions.

    • For what it’s worth, the Tenant Resource Center is usually staffed by real attorneys volunteering their time, not law students.

      • These are actually two different resource centers in the same building. Landlord Tenant Resource Center not necessarily staffed by lawyers–I have gotten excellent help there in the past from a former mediator. Another distinction: the resource center helps independent landlords, the law student clinic does not.

  • Generally speaking in situations like these, if you say something along the lines of “please take it up with my lawyer,” you can end up doing just about anything you want. (Note: actual retention of an attorney is almost never necessary).

  • When I lived in a big apartment building (the Embassy/Borger Mgt), I seem to recall needing to give notice at the beginning of the month, but that may have been because my lease was signed at the beginning of the month. At that point, I was on a month-to-month b/c I’d been there for more than a year.


  • Some landlords are flexible about this, but generally I think the rule is that it would depend on when you moved in. So if your lease started on the first of the month,
    the initial lease term ended on the last day of the month 12 months later (assuming a one-year lease). At that point, it goes month-to-month, which means one-month increments. Assuming that scenario, you could give notice at the end of September that you were moving out at the end of the October (for instance). But you couldn’t give notice in mid-September that you’re moving out mid-October. If you’ve found a new place you really like, it’s probably still worth whatever overlap there would be between the two places in the long run. Also, the place you’re moving to might be a little flexible on the move-in date to eliminate some of that overlap.

    • core787

      Thank you for the answers! This has been helpful. I talked to the new landlord and they are willing to move the move-in date back a week so the overlap is reduced and I don’t loose too much money on this move. Thanks for the suggestions. At first they seemed to really want me to move in ASAP but after paying the deposit they got a bit more flexible.

      • bonus: now you don’t have to move everything all at one.

        I always prefer to pay for at least 2 weeks of overlap so that I can take my time with the whole process, move the big stuff on a weekend (when friends are around to help), and generally not kill myself on moving day [when it’s midnight and I’m finally done and then I realize I still have to clean the entire apt…]

      • Awesome, it all worked out… I think the moral is the landlord/tenant relationship is supposed to be a mutually beneficial, so never be afraid to ask for a little flexibility…

  • The answer is that it depends upon your lease.

    If you currently pay rent on the first of the month, your landlord is probably correct. Read your lease thoroughly.

    At the moment, you are in a monthly lease, and the 30 days begins after the end of your current month.

    I’d check the DC Code and see what it says about this.

    • Again, it depends upon the type of lease that you hold:

      DC Code § 42-3202. Notice to quit–Month to month or quarter to quarter tenancy; expiration of notice.

      A tenancy from month to month, or from quarter to quarter, may be terminated by a 30 days notice in writing from the landlord to the tenant to quit, or by such a notice from the tenant to the landlord of his intention to quit, said notice to expire, in either case, on the day of the month from which such tenancy commenced to run.


      § 42-3204. Notice to quit–Tenancies by sufferance; apportionment of rent.

      A tenancy by sufferance may be terminated at any time by a notice in writing from the landlord to the tenant to quit the premises leased, or by such notice from the tenant to the landlord of his intention to quit on the 30th day after the day of the service of the notice. If such notice expires before any periodic instalment of rent falls due, according to the terms of the tenancy, the landlord shall be entitled to a proportionate part of such instalment to the date fixed for quitting the premises.

  • I was in this situation once – if the landlord of the apartment you are leaving is able to rent the apartment out to a new tenant before the end of the month that you are losing money on, you should be entitled to have the prorated of your rent which the new tenant is paying refunded to you (but I got screwed by my landlord, so I don’t know if that ever really happens). So if you can find a new tenant to take over your apartment soon after you move out, you’ll lose less $.

  • Most leases read something like,

    “no less than 30 days Notice to expire on the day that the rent is due” which is usually the first day of the month.

    Most residential leases are for one year and go month to month thereafter.

    Today is September 21, so to give proper Notice, you’d be responsible for the 9 days remaining in September and the full month of October so that you’d be giving notice to move November 1 to comply with your Notice requirement.

    It’s not that your landlord is trying to take advantage of you.

    Landlord’s depend on the income stream to meet their obligations which are firmly structured and today very heavily regulated, and so leases are structured to accommodate this, not structured for tenants leaving and giving notice whenever tenants want.

    Obligations and responsibilities concerning real property exist that have to be met by both landlords and tenants.

    There are rules. That’s life.

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