The Allegheny County Bar Association explains that tenants must give the landlord at least 30 days notice prior to moving out if it is before the lease term ends. In most cases, if the tenant is moving at the end of the lease, no notification is necessary. Tenants should check the terms of the lease to see if there are specific requirements for notification of a move.
Moving out before the end of a lease contract is considered breaking the lease. If this occurs, the landlord can legally sue the tenant for the remaining rent due. Nolo states that tenants should expect to forfeit a month's rent. Courts routinely allow landlords to keep a month's rent from the security deposit. Some states require landlords to mitigate damages by making an effort to rent out the unit. In response, a former tenant can send the landlord a letter alerting them to their legal requirement not to let an empty apartment sit idle. However, in court, the burden of proof to show a landlord did not make an effort is solely on the tenant.
According to Nolo, some states make it clear on what terms a tenant is justified to move before the end of a lease. Acceptable reasons are usually job relocation, military service and health problems. Speaking with a landlord about an impending move may resolve any legal issues ahead of time.